Among the most important rhizosphere bacteria are the pseudomonads, which are aggressive colonizers and utilize a wide range of substrates as carbon sources. The objective of this study was to determine if the taxonomic or metabolic diversity of pseudomonads differed among field-grown canola cultivars. Bacteria (n=2257) were isolated from the rhizosphere and root interior of six cultivars of field-grown canola, including three transgenic varieties. The bacteria were identified by fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) analysis, and about 35% were identified as Pseudomonas species. The most abundant species were Pseudomonas putida and Pseudomonas chlororaphis. Dendrograms based on FAME analysis revealed that many pseudomonad strains were found in all of the canola cultivars. Pseudomonads of the same strain were found in both the rhizosphere and the root interior of canola plants, suggesting that endophytic bacteria were a subset of the rhizosphere community. Because metabolic profiling provides more useful information than taxonomy, P. putida and P. chlororaphis isolates were characterized for their ability to utilize carbon substrates and produce several enzymes. Bacteria isolated from different plant cultivars had different carbon utilization profiles, but when only carbon substrates found in root exudates were analyzed, the cultivar effect was less pronounced. These characterizations also demonstrated that bacteria that were determined by FAME to be the same strain were metabolically different, suggesting functional redundancy among Pseudomonas isolates. The results of this study suggest that pseudomonads were functionally diverse. They differed in their metabolic potential among the canola cultivars from which they were isolated. Because bacteria capable of using many substrates can effectively adapt to new environments, these results have implications for the use of pseudomonads as biofertilizers, biological control agents and plant growth-promoting bacteria in canola. © 2002 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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