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Composition of epiphytic bacterial communities differs on petals and leaves

Authors

  • R. R. Junker,

    1.  Department of Animal Ecology & Tropical Biology, University of Würzburg, Biozentrum, Würzburg, Germany
    2.  Present address: Institute of Sensory Ecology, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
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  • C. Loewel,

    1.  Department of Animal Ecology & Tropical Biology, University of Würzburg, Biozentrum, Würzburg, Germany
    2.  Department of Microbiology, University of Würzburg, Biozentrum, Würzburg, Germany
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  • R. Gross,

    1.  Department of Microbiology, University of Würzburg, Biozentrum, Würzburg, Germany
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  • S. Dötterl,

    1.  Department of Plant Systematics, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
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  • A. Keller,

    1.  Department of Bioinformatics, University of Würzburg, Biozentrum, Würzburg, Germany
    2.  Present address: DNA Analytics Core Facility, University of Würzburg, Biozentrum Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany
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  • N. Blüthgen

    1.  Department of Animal Ecology & Tropical Biology, University of Würzburg, Biozentrum, Würzburg, Germany
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  • Editor
    H. Papen

R. R. Junker, Institute for Sensory Ecology, University of Düsseldorf, Universitätsstraße 1, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.
E-mail: robert.junker@uni-duesseldorf.de

Abstract

The epiphytic bacterial communities colonising roots and leaves have been described for many plant species. In contrast, microbiologists have rarely considered flowers of naturally growing plants. We identified bacteria isolated from the surface of petals and leaves of two plant species, Saponaria officinalis (Caryophyllaceae) and Lotus corniculatus (Fabaceae). The bacterial diversity was much lower on petals than on leaves of the same plants. Moreover, the bacterial communities differed strongly in composition: while Pseudomonadaceae and Microbacteriaceae were the most abundant families on leaves, Enterobacteriaceae dominated the floral communities. We hypothesise that antibacterial floral volatiles trigger the low diversity on petals, which is supported by agar diffusion assays using substances emitted by flowers and leaves of S. officinalis. These results suggest that bacteria should be included in the interpretation of floral traits, and possible effects of bacteria on pollination are proposed and discussed.

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