A Burkholderia cenocepacia-like environmental isolate strongly inhibits the plant fungal pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici

Tingting Song, Suyash Gupta, Yael Sorokin, Omer Frenkel, Eddie Cytryn, Jonathan Friedman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fungal phytopathogens cause significant reductions in agricultural yields annually, and overusing chemical fungicides for their control leads to environmental pollution and the emergence of resistant pathogens. Exploring natural isolates with strong antagonistic effects against pathogens can improve our understanding of their ecology and develop new treatments for the future. We isolated and characterized a novel bacterial strain associated with the species Burkholderia cenocepacia, termed APO9, which strongly inhibits Zymoseptoria tritici, a commercially important pathogenic fungus causing Septoria tritici blotch in wheat. Additionally, this strain exhibits inhibitory activity against four other phytopathogens. We found that physical contact plays a crucial role for APO9’s antagonistic capacity. Genome sequencing of APO9 and biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) analysis identified nine classes of BGCs and three types of secretion systems (types II, III, and IV), which may be involved in the inhibition of Z. tritici and other pathogens. To identify genes driving APO9’s inhibitory activity, we screened a library containing 1,602 transposon mutants and identified five genes whose inactivation reduced inhibition efficiency. One such gene encodes for a diaminopimelate decarboxylase located in a terpenoid biosynthesis gene cluster. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that while some of these genes are also found across the Burkholderia genus, as well as in other Betaproteobacteria, the combination of these genes is unique to the Burkholderia cepacia complex. These findings suggest that the inhibitory capacity of APO9 is complex and not limited to a single mechanism, and may play a role in the interaction between various Burkholderia species and various phytopathogens within diverse plant ecosystems. IMPORTANCE The detrimental effects of fungal pathogens on crop yields are substantial. The overuse of chemical fungicides contributes not only to environmental pollution but also to the emergence of resistant pathogens. Investigating natural isolates with strong antagonistic effects against pathogens can improve our understanding of their ecology and develop new treatments for the future. We discovered and examined a unique bacterial strain that demonstrates significant inhibitory activity against several phytopathogens. Our research demonstrates that this strain has a wide spectrum of inhibitory actions against plant pathogens, functioning through a complex mechanism. This plays a vital role in the interactions between plant microbiota and phytopathogens.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024

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  • antifungal
  • oomycete
  • plant fungal pathogen
  • Pythium
  • Septoria

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