, Volume 119, Issue 3, pp 243-254,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 05 Jun 2007

Plant responses to plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria

Abstract

Non-pathogenic soilborne microorganisms can promote plant growth, as well as suppress diseases. Plant growth promotion is taken to result from improved nutrient acquisition or hormonal stimulation. Disease suppression can occur through microbial antagonism or induction of resistance in the plant. Several rhizobacterial strains have been shown to act as plant growth-promoting bacteria through both stimulation of growth and induced systemic resistance (ISR), but it is not clear in how far both mechanisms are connected. Induced resistance is manifested as a reduction of the number of diseased plants or in disease severity upon subsequent infection by a pathogen. Such reduced disease susceptibility can be local or systemic, result from developmental or environmental factors and depend on multiple mechanisms. The spectrum of diseases to which PGPR-elicited ISR confers enhanced resistance overlaps partly with that of pathogen-induced systemic acquired resistance (SAR). Both ISR and SAR represent a state of enhanced basal resistance of the plant that depends on the signalling compounds jasmonic acid and salicylic acid, respectively, and pathogens are differentially sensitive to the resistances activated by each of these signalling pathways. Root-colonizing Pseudomonas bacteria have been shown to alter plant gene expression in roots and leaves to different extents, indicative of recognition of one or more bacterial determinants by specific plant receptors. Conversely, plants can alter root exudation and secrete compounds that interfere with quorum sensing (QS) regulation in the bacteria. Such two-way signalling resembles the interaction of root-nodulating Rhizobia with legumes and between mycorrhizal fungi and roots of the majority of plant species. Although ISR-eliciting rhizobacteria can induce typical early defence-related responses in cell suspensions, in plants they do not necessarily activate defence-related gene expression. Instead, they appear to act through priming of effective resistance mechanisms, as reflected by earlier and stronger defence reactions once infection occurs.