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Keywords:

  • Methylobacterium;
  • Rhizosphere;
  • Phyllosphere;
  • Colonization;
  • Trifolium pratense;
  • Triticum aestivum

Abstract

Bacteria belonging to the genus Methylobacterium are characterized by being able to rely on methanol as a sole carbon and energy source and by presenting a more or less intense pink reddish pigmentation. These bacteria, also referred to as pink-pigmented methylotrophic bacteria (PPFMs), are common inhabitants of the phyllosphere and are found in many other environmental samples. Since they grow slowly they are often overlooked and their impact on phyllosphere microbial communities and on the plants harboring them is not well studied nor has their ecology been elucidated. In a survey of PPFM colonization in three different agricultural sites, PPFM populations were identified on both red clover and winter wheat, but red clover was more consistently colonized. Isolations from collected leaves showed PPFM populations to decrease from spring towards summer, but they increased again towards the end of the cropping season. Isolates from red clover readily colonized winter wheat leaves and vice versa in greenhouse experiments, but population sizes were dependent on the application procedure. Tested isolates had also good potential to colonize the rhizosphere, especially after seed inoculations. Confocal scanning laser microscopy showed gfp-tagged isolates to colonize the surface of clover leaves by forming large aggregates.