Differences between Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae B728a and Pantoea agglomerans BRT98 in Epiphytic and Endophytic Colonization of Leaves

Siva Sabaratnam, Iowa State University
Gwyn A. Beattie, Iowa State University

This article is from Applied and Environmental Microbiology 69 (2003): 1220, doi: 10.1128/AEM.69.2.1220-1228.2003. Posted with permission.


The leaf colonization strategies of two bacterial strains were investigated. The foliar pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae strain B728a and the nonpathogen Pantoea agglomerans strain BRT98 were marked with a green fluorescent protein, and surface (epiphytic) and subsurface (endophytic) sites of bean and maize leaves in the laboratory and the field were monitored to see if populations of these strains developed. The populations were monitored using both fluorescence microscopy and counts of culturable cells recovered from nonsterilized and surface-sterilized leaves. The P. agglomerans strain exclusively colonized epiphytic sites on the two plant species. Under favorable conditions, theP. agglomerans strain formed aggregates that often extended over multiple epidermal cells. The P. syringae pv. syringae strain established epiphytic and endophytic populations on asymptomatic leaves of the two plant species in the field, with most of the P. syringae pv. syringae B728a cells remaining in epiphytic sites of the maize leaves and an increasing number occupying endophytic sites of the bean leaves in the 15-day monitoring period. The epiphytic P. syringae pv. syringae B728a populations appeared to originate primarily from multiplication in surface sites rather than from the movement of cells from subsurface to surface sites. The endophytic P. syringae pv. syringae B728a populations appeared to originate primarily from inward movement through the stomata, with higher levels of multiplication occurring in bean than in maize. A rainstorm involving a high raindrop momentum was associated with rapid growth of the P. agglomeransstrain on both plant species and with rapid growth of both the epiphytic and endophytic populations of the P. syringae pv. syringae strain on bean but not with growth of the P. syringae pv. syringae strain on maize. These results demonstrate that the two bacterial strains employed distinct colonization strategies and that the epiphytic and endophytic population dynamics of the pathogenic P. syringae pv. syringae strain were dependent on the plant species, whereas those of the nonpathogenic P. agglomerans strain were not.