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Characterization of culturable bacterial endophytes of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) and their capacity to influence plant growth



Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a perennial warm season grass that is native to the plains of North America and is widely grown as a forage, bioenergy or groundcover crop. Despite its importance, a bottleneck in switchgrass production is poor seedling vigor, which as a perennial crop represents an important time for management. Herein, data identify a suite of culturable bacterial microflora extracted from switchgrass, and show their capability to influence host plant growth and development. A total of 307 bacterial isolates were cultured and isolated from surface sterilized switchgrass biomass and sequence identified into 76 strains (subspecies classification), 36 species and 5 phyla. Approximately 58% of bacterial strains, when reintroduced into surface-sterilized switchgrass seeds, were documented to increase lamina length (cm from base to tip after 60 days growth) relative to uninoculated controls. Ecologically, Phylum Firmicutes was the most abundant bacterial classification and encompassed 75% of all isolates. Although the culturable bacterial community studies herein represent an unknown and assumedly minor proportion of the total microbiome, by focusing on culturable bacteria, we delineate functional feedback between the presence of isolated bacteria and switchgrass seedling growth.

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