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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Community terminal restriction fragment length polymorphisms reveal insights into the diversity and dynamics of leaf endophytic bacteria

Tao Ding1, Michael W Palmer2 and Ulrich Melcher1*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, 74078, USA

2 Department of Botany, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, 74078, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Microbiology 2013, 13:1  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-13-1

Published: 3 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Plant endophytic bacteria play an important role benefiting plant growth or being pathogenic to plants or organisms that consume those plants. Multiple species of bacteria have been found co-inhabiting plants, both cultivated and wild, with viruses and fungi. For these reasons, a general understanding of plant endophytic microbial communities and their diversity is necessary. A key issue is how the distributions of these bacteria vary with location, with plant species, with individual plants and with plant growing season.

Results

Five common plant species were collected monthly for four months in the summer of 2010, with replicates from four different sampling sites in the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County, Oklahoma, USA. Metagenomic DNA was extracted from ground, washed plant leaf samples, and fragments of the bacterial 16S rDNA genes were amplified for analysis of terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP). We performed mono-digestion T-RFLP with restriction endonuclease DdeI, to reveal the structures of leaf endophytic bacterial communities, to identify the differences between plant-associated bacterial communities in different plant species or environments, and to explore factors affecting the bacterial distribution. We tested the impacts of three major factors on the leaf endophytic bacterial communities, including host plant species, sampling dates and sampling locations.

Conclusions

Results indicated that all of the three factors were significantly related (α = 0.05) to the distribution of leaf endophytic bacteria, with host species being the most important, followed by sampling dates and sampling locations.

Keywords:
Leaf bacterial endophytes; Ecology; T-RFLP; Biodiversity