Fluorescent Pseudomonas spp. producing the antibiotic 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol (DAPG) are ecologically important in the rhizosphere as they can control phytopathogens and contribute to disease suppressiveness. DAPG can also trigger a systemic resistance response in plants and stimulate root exudation and branching as well as induce plant-beneficial activities in other rhizobacteria. While studies of DAPG-producing Pseudomonas have predominantly focused on rhizosphere niches, the ecological role of DAPG as well as the distribution and dynamics of DAPG-producing bacteria remains less well understood for other environments such as bulk soil and grassland, where the level of DAPG producers are predicted to be low. Here, we construct a whole cell biosensor for detection of DAPG and DAPG-producing bacteria from environmental samples.The constructed biosensor contains a phlF response module and either lacZ or lux genes as output modules assembled on a pSEVA plasmid backbone for easy transfer to different host species and to enable easy future genetic modifications. We show that the sensor is highly specific toward DAPG, with a sensitivity in the low nanomolar range (>20 nM). This sensitivity is comparable to the DAPG levels identified in rhizosphere samples by chemical analysis. The biosensor enables guided isolation of DAPG-producing Pseudomonas Using the biosensor, we probed the same grassland soil sampling site to isolate genetically related DAPG-producing Pseudomonas kilonensis strains over a period of 12 months. Next, we used the biosensor to determine the frequency of DAPG-producing Pseudomonas within three different grassland soil sites and show that DAPG producers can constitute part of the Pseudomonas population in the range of 0.35-17% at these sites. Finally, we show that the biosensor enables detection of DAPG produced by non-Pseudomonas species. Our studies show that a whole-cell biosensor for DAPG detection can facilitate isolation of bacteria that produce this important secondary metabolite and provide insight into the population dynamics of DAPG producers in natural grassland soil.
- Secondary metabolites
- Synthetic biology