Root colonization and systemic spreading of Azoarcus sp. strain BH72 in grasses.
ABSTRACT: The invasive properties of Azoarcus sp. strain BH72, an endorhizospheric isolate of Kallar grass, on gnotobiotically grown seedlings of Oryza sativa IR36 and Leptochloa fusca (L.) Kunth were studied. Additionally, Azoarcus spp. were localized in roots of field-grown Kallar grass. To facilitate localization and to assure identity of bacteria, genetically engineered microorganisms expressing beta-glucuronidase were also used as inocula. beta-Glucuronidase staining indicated that the apical region of the root behind the meristem was the most intensively colonized. Light and electron microscopy showed that strain BH72 penetrated the rhizoplane preferentially in the zones of elongation and differentiation and colonized the root interior inter- and intracellularly. In addition to the root cortex, stelar tissue was also colonized; bacteria were found in the xylem. No evidence was obtained that Azoarcus spp. could reside in living plant cells; rather, plant cells were apparently destroyed after bacteria had penetrated the cell wall. A common pathogenicity test on tobacco leaves provided no evidence that representative strains of Azoarcus spp. are phytopathogenic. Compared with the control, inoculation with strain BH72 significantly promoted growth of rice seedlings. This effect was reversed when the plant medium was supplemented with malate (0.2 g/liter). N2 fixation was apparently not involved, because the same response was obtained with a nifK mutant of strain BH72, which has a Nif- phenotype. Also, Western blot (immunoblot) analysis of protein extracts from rice seedlings gave no indication that nitrogenase was present. PCR and Western immunoblotting, using primers specific for eubacteria and antibodies recognizing type-specific antigens, respectively, indicated that strain BH72 could colonize rice plants systemically, probably mediated by longitudinal spreading through vessels.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The model endophyte Azoarcus sp. strain BH72 is known to contribute fixed nitrogen to its host Kallar grass and also expresses nitrogenase genes endophytically in rice seedlings. Availability of nitrogen is a signal regulating the transcription of nitrogenase genes. Therefore, we analysed global transcription in response to differences in the nitrogen source. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: A DNA microarray, comprising 70-mer oligonucleotides representing 3989 open reading frames of the genome of strain BH72, was used for transcriptome studies. Transcription profiles of cells grown microaerobically on N2 versus ammonium were compared. Expression of 7.2% of the genes was significantly up-regulated, and 5.8% down-regulated upon N2 fixation, respectively. A parallel genome-wide prediction of ?(54)-type promoter elements mapped to the upstream region of 38 sequences of which 36 were modulated under the N2 response. In addition to modulation of genes related to N2 fixation, the expressions of gene clusters that might be related to plant-microbe interaction and of several transcription factors were significantly enhanced. While comparing under N2-fixation conditions the transcriptome of wild type with a nifLA(-) insertion mutant, NifA being the essential transcriptional activator for nif genes, 24.5% of the genome was found to be affected in expression. A genome-wide prediction of 29 NifA binding sequences matched to 25 of the target genes whose expression was differential during microarray analysis, some of which were putatively negatively regulated by NifA. For selected genes, differential expression was corroborated by real time RT-PCR studies. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: Our data suggest that life under conditions of nitrogen fixation is an important part of the lifestyle of strain BH72 in roots, as a wide range of genes far beyond the nif regulon is modulated. Moreover, the NifA regulon in strain BH72 appears to encompass a wider range of cellular functions beyond the regulation of nif genes.
Project description:Model endophyte Azoarcus sp. BH72 is known to contribute fixed nitrogen to its host Kallar grass by nitrogen fixation and also expresses nitrogenase genes endophytically in rice seedlings in gnotobiotic culture. Availability of fixed nitrogen is one of the important signals regulating the transcription of nitrogenase genes and hence nitrogen fixing activity. Therefore, we analysed global transcription in response to differences in the nitrogen source. Transcription profiles of cells grown microaerobically (0.6% oxygen) on minimal medium with nitrogen (N2-fixing) versus ammonium (combined nitrogen) were compared using a genome-wide microarray approach and differences in the gene expression profile were monitored. RNA from cells grown on nitrogen-free synthetic medium under nitrogen fixation (experiment) and combined nitrogen source as ammonium chloride (control) was used for two-color whole-genome microarray approach.
Project description:Azoarcus sp. BH72 is known to express nitrogenase genes endophytically in rice seedlings in gnotobiotic culture. Availability of fixed nitrogen is one of the important signals regulating the transcription of nitrogenase genes and hence nitrogen fixing activity. NifA is the essential transcription activator of nif genes. RNA isolated from the nifA knockout mutant of strain BH72 was compared with the transcriptome of wild type under nitrogen fixing condition using a global genome wide microarray approach and the differences in the gene expression profile were monitered. RNA isolated from wild type strain BH72 and nifLA mutant strain BHLAO grown respectively under microaerobic nitrogen fixing condition with glutamate as poor nitrogen source was used for two color whole genome microarray approach
Project description:The endophytic diazotroph Azoarcus sp. strain BH72 is capable of infecting rice roots and of expressing the nitrogenase (nif) genes there. In order to study the genetic background for nitrogen fixation in strain BH72, the structural genes of nitrogenase (nifHDK) were cloned and sequenced. The sequence analysis revealed an unusual gene organization: downstream of nifHDK, a ferredoxin gene (fdxN; 59% amino acid sequence identity to R. capsulatus FdxN) and open reading frames showing 52 and 36% amino acid sequence identity to nifY of Pseudomonas stutzeri A15 and ORF1 of Azotobacter vinelandii were located. Northern blot analysis, reverse transcriptase PCR and primer extension analysis revealed that these six genes are located on one transcript transcribed from a sigma(54)-type promoter. Shorter transcripts sequentially missing genes of the 3' part of the full-length mRNA were more abundantly detected. Mutational analyses suggested that FdxN is an important but not the essential electron donor for dinitrogenase reductase. An in-frame deletion of fdxN resulted in reduced growth rates (59% +/- 9%) and nitrogenase activities (81%) in nitrogen-fixing pure cultures in comparison to the wild type. Nitrogenase activity was fully complemented in an fdxN mutant which carried a nifH promoter-driven fdxN gene in trans. Also, in coculture with the ascomycete Acremonium alternatum, where strain BH72 develops intracytoplasmic membrane stacks, the nitrogenase activity in the fdxN deletion mutant was decreased to 56% of the wild-type level. Surprisingly, the fdxN deletion also had an effect on the rapid "switch-off" of nitrogenase activity in response to ammonium. Wild-type strain BH72 and the deletion mutant complemented with fdxN in trans showed a rapid reversible inactivation of acetylene reduction, while the deletion mutant did not cease to reduce acetylene. In concordance with the hypothesis that changes in the redox state of NifH or electron flux towards nitrogenase may be involved in the mechanism of physiological nitrogenase switch-off, our results suggest that the ferredoxin may be a component involved in this process.
Project description:The genus Azoarcus includes nitrogen-fixing, grass-associated strains as well as denitrying toluene degraders. In order to identify and group members of the genus Azoarcus, phylogenetic analysis based on partial sequences of 16S rRNA genes (16S rDNAs) is proposed. 16S rRNA-targeted PCR using specific primers to exclude amplification in the majority of other members of the beta subclass of the class Proteobacteria was combined with direct sequencing of the PCR products. Tree inference from comparisons of 446-bp rDNA fragments yielded similar results for the three known Azoarcus spp. sequences and for analysis of the complete 16S rDNA sequence. These three species formed a phylogenetically coherent group with representatives of two other Azoarcus species which were subjected to 16S rRNA sequencing in this study. This group was related to Rhodocyclus purpureus and Thauera selenatis. New isolates and also sequences of so far uncultured bacteria from roots of Kallar grass were assigned to the genus Azoarcus as well. Also, strains degrading monoaromatic hydrocarbons anaerobically in the presence of nitrate clustered within this genus, albeit not with grass-associated isolates. All representative members of the five species harboring rhizospheric bacteria were able to form N2O from nitrate and showed anaerobic growth on malic acid with nitrate but not on toluene. In order to visualize different Azoarcus spp. by whole-cell in situ hybridizations, we generated 16S rRNA-targeted, fluorescent probes by in vitro transcription directly from PCR products which spanned the variable region V2. Hybridization was species specific for Azoarcus communis and Azoarcus indigens.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Project description:Research on the interaction between the non-nodule-forming bacterial endophytes and their host plants is still in its infancy. Especially the understanding of plant control mechanisms which govern endophytic colonization is very limited. The current study sets out to determine which hormonal signaling pathway controls endophytic colonization in rice, and whether the mechanisms deviate for a pathogen. The endophyte Azoarcus olearius BH72-rice model was used to investigate root responses to endophytes in comparison to the recently established pathosystem of rice blight Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae PXO99 (Xoo) in flooded roots. In the rice root transcriptome, 523 or 664 genes were found to be differentially expressed in response to Azoarcus or Xoo colonization, respectively; however, the response was drastically different, with only 6% of the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) overlapping. Overall, Xoo infection induced a much stronger defense reaction than Azoarcus colonization, with the latter leading to down-regulation of many defense related DEGs. Endophyte-induced DEGs encoded several enzymes involved in phytoalexin biosynthesis, ROS (reactive oxygen species) production, or pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins. Among putative plant markers related to signal transduction pathways modulated exclusively during Azoarcus colonization, none overlapped with previously published DEGs identified for another rice endophyte, Azospirillum sp. B510. This suggests a large variation in responses of individual genotypic combinations. Interestingly, the DEGs related to jasmonate (JA) signaling pathway were found to be consistently activated by both beneficial endophytes. In contrast, the salicylate (SA) pathway was activated only in roots infected by the pathogen. To determine the impact of SA and JA production on root colonization by the endophyte and the pathogen, rice mutants with altered hormonal responses were employed: mutant cpm2 deficient in jasmonate synthesis, and RNA interference (RNAi) knockdown lines of NPR1 decreased in salicylic acid-mediated defense responses (NPR1-kd). Only in cpm2, endophytic colonization of Azoarcus was significantly increased, while Xoo colonization was not affected. Surprisingly, NPR1-kd lines showed slightly decreased colonization by Xoo, contrary to published results for leaves. These outcomes suggest that JA but not SA signaling is involved in controlling the Azoarcus endophyte density in roots and can restrict internal root colonization, thereby shaping the beneficial root microbiome.
Project description:Low oxygen tensions are often encountered in flooded soils of rice fields by root-associated, strictly respiratory, beta proteobacterium, Azoarcus sp. BH72 which fixes nitrogen only under microaerobic condition. In this study, genome wide oligonucleotide microarrays were used compare the global transcription profile of Azoarcus sp. BH72 under microaerobic condition with cells grown under aerobic condition, both with ammonia as sole nitrogen source. The outcome of this study will provide a better insight about the establishment of this endophyte in the microaerobic environment, probably prevailing inside of the rice root niche . RNA from cells grown under microaerobic condition with 0.3% oxygen (experiment) and aerobic condition with 21% oxygen (control), respectively was used for two color whole genome microarray approach.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Bacterial communication is involved in regulation of cellular mechanisms such as metabolic processes, microbe-host interactions or biofilm formation. In the nitrogen-fixing model endophyte of grasses Azoarcus sp. strain BH72, known cell-cell signaling systems have not been identified; however, the pilA gene encoding the structural protein of type IV pili that are essential for plant colonization appears to be regulated in a population density-dependent manner. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Our data suggest that pilAB expression is affected by population density, independent of autoinducers typical for gram-negative bacteria, likely depending on unknown secreted molecule(s) that can be produced by different bacterial species. We used transcriptomic and proteomic approaches to identify target genes and proteins differentially regulated in conditioned supernatants in comparison to standard growth conditions. Around 8% of the 3992 protein-coding genes of Azoarcus sp. and 18% of the detected proteins were differentially regulated. Regulatory proteins and transcription factors among the regulated proteins indicated a complex hierarchy. Differentially regulated genes and proteins were involved in processes such as type IV pili formation and regulation, metal and nutrient transport, energy metabolism, and unknown functions mediated by hypothetical proteins. Four of the newly discovered target genes were further analyzed and in general they showed regulation patterns similar to pilAB. The expression of one of them was shown to be induced in plant roots. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: This study is the first global approach to initiate characterization of cell density-dependent gene regulation mediated by soluble molecule(s) in the model endophyte Azoarcus sp. strain BH72. Our data suggest that the putative signaling molecule(s) are also produced by other Proteobacteria and might thus be used for interspecies communication. This study provides the foundation for the development of robust reporter systems for Azoarcus sp. to analyze mechanisms and molecules involved in the population-dependent gene expression in this endophyte in future.
Project description:Endophytic colonization is a very complex process which is not yet completely understood. Molecules exuded by the plants may act as signals which influence the ability of the microbe to colonize the host or survive in the rhizosphere. Here we investigated whether root exudates of the host might play a role in initiating the endophyte-rice interaction. The whole genome microarray approach was used to investigate the response of the diazotrophic model endophyte, Azoarcus sp. strain BH72, to exudates of O. sativa cv. Nipponbare in order to identify differentially regulated genes. Azoarcus sp. strain BH72 was grown in the presence or absence of root exudates of Oryza sativa cv. Nipponbare for two different time points, and differences in the gene expression profile were monitored. RNA from cells grown on synthetic medium for 1 and 4 hours respectively in presence (experiment) and absence (control) of exudates was used for two color whole genome microarray approach.