Tissue-specific diversity of bacterial endophytes in Mexican husk tomato plants (Physalis ixocarpa Brot. ex Horm.), & screening for their multiple plant growth-promoting activities
The endophytic bacterial diversity of root, stem, and leaf tissues of Mexican husk tomato plants (Physalis ixocarpa) was compared and deciphered, and screened for their plant growth-promoting activity and antagonism against fungal phytopathogens. Total 315 isolates (108 roots, 102 stems, and 105 leaves) were obtained and characterized by 16S ribosomal gene sequencing. The most abundant genera were Bacillus, Microbacterium, Pseudomonas, and Stenotrophomonas. Unique species were found for each tissue analyzed, along with B. thuringiensis, B. toyonensis, Neobacillus drentensis, Paenibacillus castaneae, P. fluorescens, P. poae, and S. maltophilia present throughout the plant. Biodiversity indices did not show significant differences, but root tissues showed the highest abundance of bacterial endophytes. Several isolates showed excellent promotion activities in Physalis ixocarpa seedlings, increasing the length and weight of the root, total biomass, and chlorophyll content. Various isolates also exhibited antagonism against fungal pathogens. Among screened isolates, Neobacillus drentensis CH23 was found in all plant compartments, exhibiting growth-promoting activity and fungal antagonism. Strain CH23 and other endophytes showed the production of indoleacetic acid, siderophores, proteases, and solubilization of phosphates. These results demonstrate that the husk tomato plant endobiome has a high potential as a bioinoculating agent for agriculturally important crops.