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UBC Theses and Dissertations

How beneficial Pseudomonas fluorescens protect Arabidopsis thaliana from an opportunistic pathogen Wang, Nicole


Plants form commensal associations with soil microorganisms, creating a root microbiome that provides benefits to the host including protection against pathogens. While bacteria can inhibit pathogens through production of antimicrobial compounds in vitro, it is largely unknown how microbiota contribute to pathogen protection in planta. I used a gnotobiotic model system consisting of Arabidopsis thaliana, and an opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas sp. N2C3, to identify mechanisms that determine the outcome of plant-pathogen-microbiome interactions in the rhizosphere. I screened 25 phylogenetically diverse Pseudomonas strains for their ability to protect against N2C3 and found that commensal strains closely related to N2C3 were more likely to protect against pathogenesis. I used a comparative genomics approach to identify unique genes in the protective strains that revealed no genes that correlate with protection, suggesting that variable regulation of components of the core Pseudomonas genome may contribute to pathogen protection. I found that commensal colonization level was highly predictive of protection and so tested deletions of genes previously shown to be required for Arabidopsis rhizosphere colonization. I identified a response regulator colR that is required for Pseudomonas protection against N2C3 and fitness in competition with N2C3 indicating that competitive exclusion may contribute to pathogen protection. I found that Pseudomonas sp. WCS365 also protects against the agricultural pathogen Pseudomonas fuscovaginae SE-1, the causal agent of bacterial sheath brown rot of rice. This work establishes a gnotobiotic model to uncover mechanisms by which members of the microbiome can protect hosts from pathogens and informs our understanding of the use of beneficial strains for microbiome engineering in dysbiotic soil systems.

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