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Plant Signaling and Behavior
Vol. 6, No: 4, 2011, Pages: 510 - 5

A novel growth-promoting microbe, Methylobacterium funariae sp. nov., isolated from the leaf surface of a common moss

Schauer S, Kutschera U

Institute of Biology, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany.


Land plants (embryophytes) evolved in the presence of prokaryotic microbes. As a result, numerous mutually beneficial associations (symbioses) developed that can be analyzed using a variety of methods. Here we describe the isolation and characterization of a new pink-pigmented facultatively methylotrophic symbiotic bacterium of the genus Methylobacterium (laboratory strain F3.2) that was isolated from the gametophytic phylloids of the common cord moss Funaria hygrometrica Hedw. Plantlets were collected in the field and analyzed in the laboratory. Colonies of methylobacteria were obtained by the agar-impression-method. Based on its unique phenotype (the bacterial cells are characterized by fimbriae-like appendages), a comparative 16S rRNA gene (DNA) sequence analysis, and an average DNA-DNA hybridization value of 8,4 %, compared with its most closely related sister taxon, this isolate is described as a new species, Methylobacterium funariae sp. nov. (type strain F3.2). This new epiphytic bacterium inhabits the leaf surface of "primitive" land plants such as mosses and interacts with its host organism via the secretion of phytohormones (cytokinines, auxins). These external signals are perceived by the plant cells that divide and grow more rapidly than in the absence of their prokaryotic phytosymbionts. We suggest that M. funariae sp. nov. uses methanol emitted from the stomatal pores as principal carbon source for cell metabolism. However, our novel data indicate that, in this unique symbiotic plant-microbe interaction, the uptake of amino acids leached from the surface of the epidermal cells of the green host organism may be of importance as microbial carbon- and nitrogen-source.

Keywords:Land plants (embryophytes),prokaryotic microbes,16S rRNA gene (DNA) sequence analysis,phytohormones (cytokinines, auxins).


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