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Keywords:

  • Bacillus thuringiensis;
  • phospholipid fatty acids;
  • phyllosphere;
  • 16S rRNA genes

Abstract

Although biological control agents (BCAs) have been used extensively for controlling insects and pathogens of plants, little is known regarding the effects of such agents on the indigenous microbial communities within the plant phyllosphere. We assessed the effect of the BCA Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) on the microbial communities within the pepper plant phyllosphere using culture-independent methodologies. Phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis suggested that the bacterial and fungal biomass were not significantly affected following Bt application. However, principal component analysis of PLFA data indicated that Bt did change the phyllosphere microbial community structure significantly. 16S rRNA gene-directed PCR with denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) also suggested a significant change in the phyllosphere bacterial community structure following Bt inoculation. Phylogenetic analysis of excised DGGE bands suggested a change in bacterial phyla; bands from untreated samples predominantly belonged to the Firmicutes, while Gammaproteobacteria abounded in the treated samples.