The Distribution of Tryptophan-Dependent Indole-3-Acetic Acid Synthesis Pathways in Bacteria Unraveled by Large-Scale Genomic Analysis

Pengfan Zhang, Tao Jin, Sunil Kumar Sahu, Jin Xu, Qiong Shi, Huan Liu, Yayu Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Bacterial indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), an effector molecule in microbial physiology, plays an important role in plant growth-promotion. Here, we comprehensively analyzed about 7282 prokaryotic genomes representing diverse bacterial phyla, combined with root-associated metagenomic data to unravel the distribution of tryptophan-dependent IAA synthesis pathways and to quantify the IAA synthesis-related genes in the plant root environments. We found that 82.2% of the analyzed bacterial genomes were potentially capable of synthesizing IAA from tryptophan (Trp) or intermediates. Interestingly, several phylogenetically diverse bacteria showed a preferential tendency to utilize different pathways and tryptamine and indole-3-pyruvate pathways are most prevalent in bacteria. About 45.3% of the studied genomes displayed multiple coexisting pathways, constituting complex IAA synthesis systems. Furthermore, root-associated metagenomic analyses revealed that rhizobacteria mainly synthesize IAA via indole-3-acetamide (IAM) and tryptamine (TMP) pathways and might possess stronger IAA synthesis abilities than bacteria colonizing other environments. The obtained results refurbished our understanding of bacterial IAA synthesis pathways and provided a faster and less labor-intensive alternative to physiological screening based on genome collections. The better understanding of IAA synthesis among bacterial communities could maximize the utilization of bacterial IAA to augment the crop growth and physiological function.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1411
Issue number7
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Bacteria
  • Genomes
  • Indole-3-acetic acid
  • Metagenomes
  • Pathways

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