, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 96-103
Date: 31 Oct 2003

Engineering Root Exudation of Lotus toward the Production of Two Novel Carbon Compounds Leads to the Selection of Distinct Microbial Populations in the Rhizosphere

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The culture of opine-producing transgenic Lotus plants induces the increase in the rhizosphere of bacterial communities that are able to utilize these molecules as sole carbon source. We used transgenic Lotus plants producing two opines, namely mannopine and nopaline, to characterize the microbial communities directly influenced by the modification of root exudation. We showed that opine-utilizers represent a large community in the rhizosphere of opine-producing transgenic Lotus. This community is composed of at least 12 different bacterial species, one third of which are able to utilize the opine mannopine and two thirds the opine nopaline. Opine utilizers are diverse, belonging to the Gram-positive and -negative bacteria. We described two novel mannopine-utilizing species, Rhizobium and Duganella spp., and five novel nopaline-utilizing species, Duganella, Afipia, Phyllobacterium, Arthrobacter, and Bosea spp. Although opine utilizers mostly belong to the α-Proteobacteria, Rhizobiaceae family, there is little overlap between the populations able to utilize each of the two opines produced by the plants. Noticeably, in the rhizosphere of transgenic Lotus, only the opine mannopine favors the growth of Agrobacterium tumefaciens, the bacterium from which opines have been characterized. The diversity of opine utilizers from the rhizosphere of Lotus plants is greater than that observed from any other environment. Therefore, transgenic plants with engineered exudation constitute an excellent tool to isolate and characterize specific microbial populations.