Exploring Functional Diversity and Community Structure of Diazotrophic Endophytic Bacteria Associated with Pennisetum glaucum Growing under Field in a Semi-Arid Region


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Diazotrophic endophytic bacteria (DEB) are the key drivers of nitrogen fixation in rainfed soil ecosystems and, hence, can influence the growth and yield of crop plants. Therefore, the present work investigated the structure and composition of the DEB community at different growth stages of field-grown pearl millet plants, employing the cultivation-dependent method. Diazotrophy of the bacterial isolates was confirmed by acetylene reduction assay and amplification of the nifH gene. ERIC-PCR-based DNA fingerprinting, followed by 16S rRNA gene analysis of isolates recovered at different time intervals, demonstrated the highest bacterial diversity during early (up to 28 DAS (Days after sowing)) and late (63 DAS onwards) stages, as compared to the vegetative growth stage (28-56 DAS). Among all species, Pseudomonas aeruginosa was the most dominant endophyte. Assuming modulation of the immune response as one of the tactics for successful colonization of P. aeruginosa PM389, we studied the expression of the profile of defense genes of wheat, used as a host plant, in response to P. aeruginosa inoculation. Most of the pathogenesis-related PR genes were induced initially (at 6 h after infection (HAI)), followed by their downregulation at 12 HAI. The trend of bacterial colonization was quantified by qPCR of 16S rRNAs. The results obtained in the present study indicated an attenuated defense response in host plants towards endophytic bacteria, which is an important feature that helps endophytes establish themselves inside the endosphere of roots.
ERIC, nitrogen fixation, pearl millet, qPCR, PM389, PR genes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa
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