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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Comparative genomic analysis of four representative plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria in Pseudomonas

Xuemei Shen, Hongbo Hu, Huasong Peng, Wei Wang and Xuehong Zhang*

Author Affiliations

State Key Laboratory of Microbial Metabolism, School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 800 Dongchuan Road, Shanghai, 200240, People’s Republic of China

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:271  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-271

Published: 22 April 2013



Some Pseudomonas strains function as predominant plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR). Within this group, Pseudomonas chlororaphis and Pseudomonas fluorescens are non-pathogenic biocontrol agents, and some Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Pseudomonas stutzeri strains are PGPR. P. chlororaphis GP72 is a plant growth-promoting rhizobacterium with a fully sequenced genome. We conducted a genomic analysis comparing GP72 with three other pseudomonad PGPR: P. fluorescens Pf-5, P. aeruginosa M18, and the nitrogen-fixing strain P. stutzeri A1501. Our aim was to identify the similarities and differences among these strains using a comparative genomic approach to clarify the mechanisms of plant growth-promoting activity.


The genome sizes of GP72, Pf-5, M18, and A1501 ranged from 4.6 to 7.1 M, and the number of protein-coding genes varied among the four species. Clusters of Orthologous Groups (COGs) analysis assigned functions to predicted proteins. The COGs distributions were similar among the four species. However, the percentage of genes encoding transposases and their inactivated derivatives (COG L) was 1.33% of the total genes with COGs classifications in A1501, 0.21% in GP72, 0.02% in Pf-5, and 0.11% in M18. A phylogenetic analysis indicated that GP72 and Pf-5 were the most closely related strains, consistent with the genome alignment results. Comparisons of predicted coding sequences (CDSs) between GP72 and Pf-5 revealed 3544 conserved genes. There were fewer conserved genes when GP72 CDSs were compared with those of A1501 and M18. Comparisons among the four Pseudomonas species revealed 603 conserved genes in GP72, illustrating common plant growth-promoting traits shared among these PGPR. Conserved genes were related to catabolism, transport of plant-derived compounds, stress resistance, and rhizosphere colonization. Some strain-specific CDSs were related to different kinds of biocontrol activities or plant growth promotion. The GP72 genome contained the cus operon (related to heavy metal resistance) and a gene cluster involved in type IV pilus biosynthesis, which confers adhesion ability.


Comparative genomic analysis of four representative PGPR revealed some conserved regions, indicating common characteristics (metabolism of plant-derived compounds, heavy metal resistance, and rhizosphere colonization) among these pseudomonad PGPR. Genomic regions specific to each strain provide clues to its lifestyle, ecological adaptation, and physiological role in the rhizosphere.

Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria; Pseudomonad; Comparative genomics; Environmental adaptability; Rhizosphere colonization; Biocontrol activity