Multiple strategies of plant colonization by beneficial endophytic Enterobacter sp. SA187

Synek L., Rawat A., L'Haridon F., Weisskopf L., Saad M.M.,Hirt H.

Keywords: beneficial bacteria, PGPR, root colonization, microscopy, Enterobacter
Abstract: Although many endophytic plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria have been identified, relatively little is still known about the mechanisms by which they enter plants and promote plant growth. The beneficial endophyte Enterobacter sp. SA187 was shown to maintain the productivity of crops in extreme agricultural conditions. Here we present that roots of its natural host (Indigofera argentea), alfalfa, tomato, wheat, barley and Arabidopsis are all efficiently colonized by SA187. Detailed analysis of the colonization process in Arabidopsis showed that colonization already starts during seed germination, where seed-coat mucilage supports SA187 proliferation. The meristematic zone of growing roots attracts SA187, allowing epiphytic colonization in the elongation zone. Unlike primary roots, lateral roots are significantly less epiphytically colonized by SA187. Root endophytic colonization was found to occur by passive entry of SA187 at lateral-root bases. However, SA187 also actively penetrates the root epidermis by enzymatic disruption of plant cell wall material. In contrast to roots, endophytic colonization of shoots occurs via stomata, whereby SA187 can actively re-open stomata similarly to pathogenic bacteria. In summary, several entry strategies were identified that allow SA187 to establish itself as a beneficial endophyte in several plant species, supporting its use as a plant growth-promoting bacterium in agriculture systems.
DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.15747
IEB authors: Lukáš Synek