Tomato ethylene sensitivity determines interaction with plant growth-promoting bacteria

Ibort, Pablo; Molina, Sonia; Nunez, Rafael; Maria Zamarreno, Angel; Maria Garcia-Mina, Jose; Manuel Ruiz-Lozano, Juan; del Carmen Orozco-Mosqueda, Maria; Glick, Bernard R.; Aroca, Ricardo

VL / 120 - BP / 101 - EP / 122
Background and Aims Plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) are soil micro-organisms able to interact with plants and stimulate their growth, positively affecting plant physiology and development. Although ethylene plays a key role in plant growth, little is known about the involvement of ethylene sensitivity in bacterial inoculation effects on plant physiology. Thus, the present study was pursued to establish whether ethylene perception is critical for plant-bacteria interaction and growth induction by two different PGPB strains, and to assess the physiological effects of these strains in juvenile and mature tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plants. Methods An experiment was performed with the ethylene-insensitive tomato never ripe and its isogenic wildtype line in which these two strains were inoculated with either Bacillus megaterium or Enterobacter sp. C7. Plants were grown until juvenile and mature stages, when biomass, stomatal conductance, photosynthesis as well as nutritional, hormonal and metabolic statuses were analysed. Key Results Bacillus megaterium promoted growth only in mature wild type plants. However, Enterobacter C7 PGPB activity affected both wild-type and never ripe plants. Furthermore, PGPB inoculation affected physiological parameters and root metabolite levels in juvenile plants; meanwhile plant nutrition was highly dependent on ethylene sensitivity and was altered at the mature stage. Bacillus megaterium inoculation improved carbon assimilation in wild-type plants. However, insensitivity to ethylene compromised B. megaterium PGPB activity, affecting photosynthetic efficiency, plant nutrition and the root sugar content. Nevertheless, Enterobacter C7 inoculation modified the root amino acid content in addition to stomatal conductance and plant nutrition. Conclusions Insensitivity to ethylene severely impaired B. megaterium interaction with tomato plants, resulting in physiological modifications and loss of PGPB activity. In contrast, Enterobacter C7 inoculation stimulated growth independently of ethylene perception and improved nitrogen assimilation in ethylene-insensitive plants. Thus, ethylene sensitivity is a determinant for B. megaterium, but is not involved in Enterobacter C7 PGPB activity.

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Bronze, Green published