Endophytic and rhizospheric enterobacteria isolated from sugar cane have different potentials for producing plant growth-promoting substances
Background and aims Endophytic and rhizospheric environments differ in many respects, leading to the presence of different bacterial communities at each site. However, microorganisms such as enterobacteria can be found both within plants and in the surrounding soil. Bacteria must present differences in the traits that affect such environments in order to successfully colonise them. The present study compared the plant growth-promoting potential of diazotrophic enterobacteria isolated from the rhizosphere and from within surface-disinfected plants. Methods A total of 46 diazotrophic enterobacterial strains (21 rhizospheric and 25 putatively endophytic) belonging to the Klebsiella and Enterobacter genera, which are prevalent in sugar cane plantations, were isolated from the rhizosphere and from surface-disinfected plants. Their ability to synthesise amino acids using combined nitrogen obtained from nitrogen fixation, and their ability to synthesise indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) were determined by high performance liquid chromatography. Endogenous ethylene production by the bacteria was measured using gas chromatography, and biocontrol of phytopathogenic fungi was determined qualitatively using a dual culture technique. Results The putative endophytes released significantly higher amounts of amino acids than the rhizospheric bacteria, whilst the latter produced higher quantities of ethylene and were more actively antagonistic to fungi. Both types of bacteria released similar amounts of IAA. Conclusion Endophytic and rhizospheric bacteria differ in their capacity to release plant growth-promoting substances, which may be a reflection of their adaptations and an indication of their potential impact on their natural environment.