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Functional and Genetic Diversity of Bacteria Associated with the Surfaces of Agronomic Plants

Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of the Punjab, Lahore 54590, Pakistan
Plants 2019, 8(4), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8040091
Received: 9 February 2019 / Revised: 26 March 2019 / Accepted: 2 April 2019 / Published: 4 April 2019
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Abstract

The main objective of this study was to evaluate the genetic diversity and agricultural significance of bacterial communities associated with the surfaces of selected agronomic plants (carrot, cabbage and turnip). The bacterial diversity of fresh agricultural produce was targeted to identify beneficial plant microflora or opportunistic human pathogens that may be associated with the surfaces of plants. Bacterial strains were screened in vitro for auxin production, biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance. 16S rRNA gene sequencing confirmed the presence of several bacterial genera including Citrobacter, Pseudomonas, Pantoea, Bacillus, Kluyvera, Lysinibacillus, Acinetobacter, Enterobacter, Serratia, Staphylococcus, Burkholderia, Exiguobacterium, Stenotrophomonas, Arthrobacter and Klebsiella. To address the biosafety issue, the antibiotic susceptibility pattern of strains was determined against different antibiotics. The majority of the strains were resistant to amoxicillin (25 µg) and nalidixic acid (30 µg). Strains were also screened for plant growth-promoting attributes to evaluate their positive interaction with colonized plants. Maximum auxin production was observed with Stenotrophomonas maltophilia MCt-1 (101 µg mL−1) and Bacillus cereus PCt-1 (97 µg mL−1). Arthrobacter nicotianae Lb-41 and Exiguobacterium mexicanum MCb-4 were strong biofilm producers. In conclusion, surfaces of raw vegetables were inhabited by different bacterial genera. Potential human pathogens such as Bacillus cereus, Bacillus anthracis, Enterobacter cloacae, Enterobacter amnigenus and Klebsiella pneumoniae were also isolated, which makes the biosafety of these vegetable a great concern for the local community. Nevertheless, these microbes also harbor beneficial plant growth-promoting traits that indicated their positive interaction with their host plants. In particular, bacterial auxin production may facilitate the growth of agronomic plants under natural conditions. Moreover, biofilm formation may help bacteria to colonize plant surfaces to show positive interactions with host plants. View Full-Text
Keywords: food biosafety; bacterial colonization; antibiotic resistance; biofilm formation; raw-eaten vegetables; bacterial auxin production food biosafety; bacterial colonization; antibiotic resistance; biofilm formation; raw-eaten vegetables; bacterial auxin production
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Ali, B. Functional and Genetic Diversity of Bacteria Associated with the Surfaces of Agronomic Plants. Plants 2019, 8, 91.

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