Some soil-borne microorganisms are known to have the ability to solubilize insoluble rock phosphate and this process often involves the excretion of organic acids. In this issue, we describe the characterization of a novel solubilizing mechanism used by a Streptomyces strain related to Streptomyces griseus isolated from Moroccan phosphate mines. This process involves the excretion of a compound belonging to the viridomycin family that was shown to play a major role in the rock phosphate bio weathering process. We propose that the chelation of the positively charged counter ions of phosphate constitutive of rock phosphate by this molecule leads to the destabilization of the structure of rock phosphate. This would result in the solubilization of the negatively charged phosphates, making them available for plant nutrition. Furthermore, this compound was shown to inhibit growth of fungi and Gram positive bacteria, and this antibiotic activity might be due to its strong ability to chelate iron, a metallic ion indispensable for microbial growth. Considering its interesting properties, this metabolite or strains producing it could contribute to the development of sustainable agriculture acting as a novel type of slow release bio-phosphate fertilizer that has also the interesting ability to limit the growth of some common plant pathogens.
Keywords: Streptomyces griseus; antimicrobial activity; rock phosphate solubilization; viridomycin.