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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Colonization of Morus alba L. by the plant-growth-promoting and antagonistic bacterium Burkholderia cepacia strain Lu10-1

Xianling Ji12*, Guobing Lu1*, Yingping Gai2, Huijv Gao1, Baoyun Lu1, Lingrang Kong2 and Zhimei Mu1

Author Affiliations

1 College of Forestry, Shandong Agricultural University, Tai'an, Shandong, 271018, China

2 State Key Laboratory of Crop Biology, Shandong Agricultural University, Tai'an, Shandong, 271018, China

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:243  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-243

Published: 20 September 2010

Abstract

Background

Anthracnose, caused by Colletotrichum dematium, is a serious threat to the production and quality of mulberry leaves in susceptible varieties. Control of the disease has been a major problem in mulberry cultivation. Some strains of Burkholderia cepacia were reported to be useful antagonists of plant pests and could increase the yields of several crop plants. Although B. cepacia Lu10-1 is an endophytic bacterium obtained from mulberry leaves, it has not been deployed to control C. dematium infection in mulberry nor its colonization patterns in mulberry have been studied using GFP reporter or other reporters. The present study sought to evaluate the antifungal and plant-growth-promoting properties of strain Lu10-1, to clarify its specific localization within a mulberry plant, and to better understand its potential as a biocontrol and growth-promoting agent.

Results

Lu10-1 inhibited conidial germination and mycelial growth of C. dematium in vitro; when applied on leaves or to the soil, Lu10-1 also inhibited the development of anthracnose in a greenhouse, but the effectiveness varied with the length of the interval between the strain treatment and inoculation with the pathogen. Strain Lu10-1 could survive in both sterile and non-sterile soils for more than 60 days. The strain produced auxins, contributed to P solubilization and nitrogenase activity, and significantly promoted the growth of mulberry seedlings. The bacteria infected mulberry seedlings through cracks formed at junctions of lateral roots with the main root and in the zone of differentiation and elongation, and the cells were able to multiply and spread, mainly to the intercellular spaces of different tissues. The growth in all the tissues was around 1-5 × 105 CFU per gram of fresh plant tissue.

Conclusions

Burkholderia cepacia strain Lu10-1 is an endophyte that can multiply and spread in mulberry seedlings rapidly and efficiently. The strain is antagonistic to C. dematium and acts as an efficient plant-growth-promoting agent on mulberry seedlings and is therefore a promising candidate as a biocontrol and growth-promoting agent.