Fungal Competitors Affect Production of Antimicrobial Lipopeptides in Bacillus subtilis Strain B9–5
Bacillus subtilis has shown success in antagonizing plant pathogens where strains of the bacterium produce antimicrobial cyclic lipopeptides (CLPs) in response to microbial competitors in their ecological niche. To gain insight into the inhibitory role of these CLPs, B. subtilis strain B9–5 was co-cultured with three pathogenic fungi. Inhibition of mycelial growth and spore germination was assessed and CLPs produced by B. subtilis B9–5 were quantified over the entire period of microbial interaction. B. subtilis B9–5 significantly inhibited mycelial growth and spore germination of Fusarium sambucinum and Verticillium dahliae, but not Rhizopus stolonifer. LC-MS analysis revealed that B. subtilis differentially produced fengycin and surfactin homologs depending on the competitor. CLP quantification suggested that the presence of Verticillium dahliae, a fungus highly sensitive to the compounds, caused an increase followed by a decrease in CLP production by the bacterium. In co-cultures with Fusarium sambucinum, a moderately sensitive fungus, CLP production increased more gradually, possibly because of its slower rate of spore germination. With co-cultures of the tolerant fungus Rhizopus stolonifer, B. subtilis produced high amounts of CLPs (per bacterial cell) for the duration of the interaction. Variations in CLP production could be explained, in part, by the pathogens’ overall sensitivities to the bacterial lipopeptides and/or the relative growth rates between the plant pathogen and B. subtilis. CLP production varied substantially temporally depending on the targeted fungus, which provides valuable insight concerning the effectiveness of B. subtilis B9–5 protecting its ecological niche against the ingress of these pathogens.
KeywordsAntimicrobials Bacillus subtilis Fengycin Fungal pathogens Phytopathogen Plant disease Lipopeptides Surfactin
The authors thank Dr. J. David Miller for use of LC-MS and Blake Green for technical assistance. This work was supported by research grant RGPIN-2015-05679 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada to T.J.A.
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