Influence of transgenic T4-lysozyme-producing potato plants on potentially beneficial plant-associated bacteria

Authors

  • Jana Lottmann,

    1. Department of Biology, Microbiology, University of Rostock, Gertrudenstrasse 11a, D-18055 Rostock, Germany
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  • Holger Heuer,

    1. Federal Biological Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry (BBA), Institute for Plant Virology, Microbiology and Biosafety, Messeweg 11/12, D-38104 Braunschweig, Germany
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  • Kornelia Smalla,

    1. Federal Biological Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry (BBA), Institute for Plant Virology, Microbiology and Biosafety, Messeweg 11/12, D-38104 Braunschweig, Germany
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  • Gabriele Berg

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology, Microbiology, University of Rostock, Gertrudenstrasse 11a, D-18055 Rostock, Germany
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*Corresponding author. Tel.: +49 (381) 494 2049; Fax: +49 (381) 494 2244 gabriele.berg@biologie.uni-rostock.de

Abstract

A field release of genetically engineered potato plants that produce bacteriophage T4-lysozyme for enhanced bacterial resistance was monitored for changes in plant-associated bacterial populations, in the functions of potentially beneficial bacteria and in the diversity of antagonistic bacterial species. These parameters have been analyzed for two T4-lysozyme-expressing lines, a transgenic control and a non-transgenic line, over a period of 2 years at different stages of plant development and at two different locations. Two microenvironments, the rhizo- and geocaulosphere, were investigated. No significant differences in aerobic plate counts were observed between the four plant lines. In addition, no significant differences in the functions of potentially beneficial bacteria (percentage of auxin [indole-3-acetic acid=IAA]-producing isolates) and antagonistic bacteria (antagonists to Erwinia carotovora and Verticillium dahliae) were found. The diversity of antagonistic species isolated from each plant line and microenvironment was investigated to determine if the diversity and composition of potentially beneficial bacteria were influenced. Altogether, 28 different potato-associated species with antagonistic effects to phytopathogens were detected. Antagonistic strains of seven species were found only on control plants. The observed effect was minor relative to the natural variability observed during the monitoring period. This is the first study including plant-associated bacteria responsible for plant growth and health and provides an example for performing risk assessment studies for transgenic plants under a variety of environmental conditions.

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