Transgenic tomato plants alter quorum sensing in plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria

Plant Biotechnol J. 2008 Jun;6(5):442-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2008.00331.x. Epub 2008 Apr 1.


Two Gram-negative, plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPRs), denominated as M12 and M14, were classified by 16S rDNA sequencing as Burkholderia graminis species. Both strains were shown to produce a variety of N-acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL) quorum sensing (QS) signalling molecules. The involvement of these molecules in plant growth promotion and the induction of protection against salt stress was examined. AHL production was evaluated in vitro by thin-layer chromatography using AHL biosensors, and the identity of the AHLs produced was determined by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The in situ production of AHLs by M12 and M14 in the rhizosphere of Arabidopsis thaliana plants was detected by co-inoculation with green fluorescent protein-based biosensor strains and confocal laser scanning microscopy. To determine whether plant growth promotion and protection against salt stress were mediated by QS, these PGPRs were assayed on wild-type tomato plants, as well as their corresponding transgenics expressing YenI (short-chain AHL producers) and LasI (long-chain AHL producers). In wild-type tomato plants, only M12 promoted plant growth, and this effect disappeared in both transgenic lines. In contrast, M14 did not promote growth in wild-type tomatoes, but did so in the LasI transgenic line. Resistance to salt stress was induced by M14 in wild-type tomato, but this effect disappeared in both transgenic lines. The strain M12, however, did not induce salt resistance in wild-type tomato, but did so in LasI tomato plants. These results reveal that AHL QS signalling molecules mediate the ability of both PGPR strains M12 and M14 to promote plant growth and to induce protection against salt stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyl-Butyrolactones / analysis
  • Acyl-Butyrolactones / chemistry
  • Adaptation, Physiological / drug effects
  • Arabidopsis / cytology
  • Arabidopsis / drug effects
  • Arabidopsis / microbiology
  • Burkholderia / cytology
  • Burkholderia / drug effects
  • Burkholderia / genetics
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / drug effects
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / genetics*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / growth & development
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / microbiology*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Phylogeny
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Quorum Sensing* / drug effects
  • Rhizobium / cytology*
  • Rhizobium / drug effects
  • Rhizobium / isolation & purification
  • Sodium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Acyl-Butyrolactones
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Sodium Chloride