Soft rot pectobacteria (SRP) are phytopathogens of the genera Pectobacterium and Dickeya that cause soft rots on a wide range of crops and ornamental plants. SRP produce plant cell wall degrading enzymes (PCWDEs), including pectinases. Bdellovibrio and like organisms are bacterial predators that can prey on a variety of Gram-negative species, including SRP. In this research, a low methoxyl pectin (LMP)-based immobilization system for B. bacteriovorus is established. It takes advantage that pectin residues induce PCWDE secretion by the pathogens, bringing upon the release of the encapsulated predators. Three commercial LMPs differing in the degree of esterification (DE) and amidation (DA) were tested as potential carriers, by examining their effect on SRP growth, enzymes secretion and substrate breakdown. A clear advantage was observed for pectin 5 CS with the lowest DE and DA content. The degradation of 5 CS pectin-based carriers was further optimized by reducing cross-linker and pectin concentration, by adding gelatin and by dehydration. This resulted in SRP-induced disintegration of the carrier within 72 h. The released encapsulated predator caused a large decrease in SRP population while its own significantly increased, demonstrating the efficiency of this system in which the pathogen brings about its own demise.
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© 2023 The Authors. Microbial Biotechnology published by Applied Microbiology International and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.