Characterisation of the endophytic bacterial communities associated with South African sorghum plants: looking for potential plant growth-promoting endophytes
Finyom, Cyprien William Bopda
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The term endophyte is used to define all microorganisms that, during a part of their life cycle, colonize the internal tissues of a plant host. Many endophytes have been found to promote plant growth by acting either as biocontrol agents, biofertilizers or phytohormone producers. This study aimed to characterise the endophytic microbial community diversity associated with sorghum farmed in South Africa. Members of any common endophytic bacterial species identified during the study might in future studies be developed to improve sorghum production. Sorghum tissues (roots, shoots, stems) were sampled in three South African provinces (Free State, Limpopo and North West), each site being characterised by the use of different agricultural practices. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analyses were used to characterise the endophytic bacterial communities. The analysis clearly demonstrated that the endophytic bacterial community structure in the three sorghum tissue types differed, suggesting that endophyte colonization is tissue-specific. The endophytic bacterial community structure is quite similar in each tissue when comparing the populations present in the sampling sites. In the sorghum endophytic microbial communities, common bacterial species were identified using molecular tools: The cyanobacterium Synechococcus and Staphylococcus saprophyticus were identified in the root samples. Pantoea sp., Erwinia sp., Enterobacter sp. and Klebsiella sp. were found in all shoot samples. Nocardia fluminea, Bacillus cereus and Microbacterium sp. were isolated as common shoot endophytic bacteria. This study defines, for the first time, the endophytic bacterial species associated with South African sorghum plants. These common endophytic bacterial species can be used to enhance the yield of sorghum crops.