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The Tomato Rhizosphere, An Environment Rich In Nitrogen-Fixing Burkholderia Species With Capabilities Of Interest For Agriculture And Bioremediation

Jesús Caballero-Mellado, Janette Onofre-Lemus, Paulina Estrada-de los Santos, Lourdes Martínez-Aguilar

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ABSTRACT Burkholderia strains are promising candidates for biotechnological applications. Unfortunately, most of these strains belong to species of the Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) involved in human infections, hampering potential applications. Novel diazotrophic Burkholderia species, phylogenetically distant from the Bcc species, have been discovered recently, but their environmental distribution and relevant features for agro-biotechnological applications are little known. In this work, the occurrence of N 2 -fixing Burkholderia species in the rhizospheres and rhizoplanes of tomato plants field grown in Mexico was assessed. The results revealed a high level of diversity of diazotrophic Burkholderia species, including B. unamae , B. xenovorans , B. tropica , and two other unknown species, one of them phylogenetically closely related to B. kururiensis . These N 2 -fixing Burkholderia species exhibited activities involved in bioremediation, plant growth promotion, or biological control in vitro. Remarkably, B. unamae and B. kururiensis grew with aromatic compounds (phenol and benzene) as carbon sources, and the presence of aromatic oxygenase genes was confirmed in both species. The rhizospheric and endophyte nature of B. unamae and its ability to degrade aromatic compounds suggest that it could be used in rhizoremediation and for improvement of phytoremediation. B. kururiensis and other Burkholderia sp. strains grew with toluene. B. unamae and B. xenovorans exhibited ACC (1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid) deaminase activity, and the occurrence of acdS genes encoding ACC deaminase was confirmed. Mineral phosphate solubilization through organic acid production appears to be the mechanism used by most diazotrophic Burkholderia species, but in B. tropica , there presumably exists an additional unknown mechanism. Most of the diazotrophic Burkholderia species produced hydroxamate-type siderophores. Certainly, the N 2 -fixing Burkholderia species associated with plants have great potential for agro-biotechnological applications.