Genes related to antioxidant metabolism are involved in Methylobacterium mesophilicum-soybean interaction

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The genus Methylobacterium is composed of pink-pigmented methylotrophic bacterial species that are widespread in natural environments, such as soils, stream water and plants. When in association with plants, this genus colonizes the host plant epiphytically and/or endophytically. This association is known to promote plant growth, induce plant systemic resistance and inhibit plant infection by phytopathogens. In the present study, we focused on evaluating the colonization of soybean seedling-roots by Methylobacterium mesophilicum strain SR1.6/6. We focused on the identification of the key genes involved in the initial step of soybean colonization by methylotrophic bacteria, which includes the plant exudate recognition and adaptation by planktonic bacteria. Visualization by scanning electron microscopy revealed that M. mesophilicum SR1.6/6 colonizes soybean roots surface effectively at 48 h after inoculation, suggesting a mechanism for root recognition and adaptation before this period. The colonization proceeds by the development of a mature biofilm on roots at 96 h after inoculation. Transcriptomic analysis of the planktonic bacteria (with plant) revealed the expression of several genes involved in membrane transport, thus confirming an initial metabolic activation of bacterial responses when in the presence of plant root exudates. Moreover, antioxidant genes were mostly expressed during the interaction with the plant exudates. Further evaluation of stress- and methylotrophic-related genes expression by qPCR showed that glutathione peroxidase and glutathione synthetase genes were up-regulated during the Methylobacterium-soybean interaction. These findings support that glutathione (GSH) is potentially a key molecule involved in cellular detoxification during plant root colonization. In addition to methylotrophic metabolism, antioxidant genes, mainly glutathione-related genes, play a key role during soybean exudate recognition and adaptation, the first step in bacterial colonization.


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