Endophytic bacteria are relevant symbionts that contribute to plant growth and development. However, the diversity of bacteria associated with the roots of terrestrial orchids colonizing Andean ecosystems is limited. This study identifies and examines the capabilities of endophytic bacteria associated with peloton-containing roots of six terrestrial orchid species from southern Chile. To achieve our goals, we placed superficially disinfected root fragments harboring pelotons on oatmeal agar (OMA) with no antibiotic addition and cultured them until the bacteria appeared. Subsequently, they were purified and identified using molecular tools and examined for plant growth metabolites production and antifungal activity. In total, 168 bacterial strains were isolated and assigned to 8 OTUs. The orders Pseudomonadales, Burkholderiales, and Xanthomonadales of phylum Proteobacteria were the most frequent. The orders Bacillales and Flavobacteriales of the phylla Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes were also obtained. Phosphate solubilization was detected in majority of isolates; however, it was significantly higher in Collimonas pratensis and Chryseobacterium sp. (PSI = 1.505 ± 0.09 and 1.405 ± 0.24, respectively). Siderophore production was recorded only for C. pratensis (0.657 ± 0.14 mm day−1), Dyella marensis (0.131 ± 0.02 mm day−1), and Luteibacter rhizovicinus (0.343 ± 0.12 mm day−1). Indole acetic acid production was highly influenced by the isolate identity; however, the significantly higher activity was recorded for Pseudomonas spp. (ranging from 5.507 ± 1.57 µg mL−1 to 7.437 ± 0.99 µg mL−1). Additionally, six bacterial isolates were able to inhibit the growth of some potential plant pathogenic fungi. Our findings demonstrate the potential for plant growth promoting capabilities and some antifungal activities of endophytic bacteria inhabiting the mycorrhizal tissue of terrestrial orchids, which may contribute especially at early developmental stages of orchid seedlings.
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