Environ. Biosafety Res.
Volume 6, Number 1-2, January-June 2007Thematic Issue on Horizontal Gene Transfer
|Page(s)||91 - 99|
|Published online||26 October 2007|
Screening of rhizosphere and soil bacteria for transformability
Federal Biological Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry, Institute for Plant Virology, Microbiology and Biosafety, Messeweg 11-12, 38104 Braunschweig, Germany
Corresponding author: email@example.com
Natural transformation is assumed to be the most likely mechanism by which DNA from transgenic plants could be horizontally transferred to bacteria. In order to determine the occurrence of naturally transformable bacteria amongst bulk and rhizosphere soil bacteria, different transformation strategies were employed using either plasmid DNA (IncQ plasmids pSM1890 and pSM1885, conferring GFP, Smr, Gmr and GFP, Smr, Tcr, respectively) or genomic DNA from rhizosphere isolates, which were chromosomally tagged with mini-Tn5~(GFP, Tcr, as transforming DNA. Transformation assays were done in microtiter plates (262 isolates and pSM1890 or pSM1885), on filters (i) with rhizosphere bacterial community mixed with pSM1890 or pSM1885, (ii) with 24 rhizosphere or soil bacterial isolates mixed with genomic DNA of the corresponding mini-Tn5-tagged strains, and in the rhizosphere of tobacco plants inoculated with rifampicin-resistant bacterial isolates and genomic DNA of the corresponding mini-Tn5-tagged strains added. One transformant colony was obtained when Brevundimonas vesicularis was transformed with genomic DNA of the corresponding mini-Tn5-tagged strain. Attempts to reproduce this result were unsuccessful. With this single exception, transformants were neither detected in the collection of isolates nor in the rhizosphere bacterial community. Acinetobacter baylyi BD413 used as a positive control showed drastically reduced transformation frequencies with plasmid pSM1890 as transforming DNA when mixed with the rhizosphere pellet. All transformants were characterized by BOX-PCR fingerprints, and three different BOX patterns were revealed. Sequencing the 16S rRNA gene showed that all transformants could be assigned to Acinetobacter sp. Since transformants were only observed in the positive control, the introduced BD413 either underwent genomic rearrangements, or competence of the Acinetobacter population present in the rhizosphere was stimulated by the introduction of BD413. The various transformation assays performed indicate that the proportion of rhizosphere or bulk soil bacteria which are naturally transformable is negligibly low.
Key words: Horizontal gene transfer / transformability screening / soil bacteria / rhizosphere bacteria / Acinetobacter baylyi BD413
© ISBR, EDP Sciences, 2007