Enterobacter cloacae is an endophytic symbiont of corn

Research paper by Dorothy M. Hinton, Charles W. Bacon

Indexed on: 01 Feb '95Published on: 01 Feb '95Published in: Mycopathologia


The bacteriumEnterobacter cloacae is presently used for biocontrol of postharvest diseases of fruits and vegetables and as a preplant seed treatment for suppression of damping-off. This bacterium has apparent affinities for several grass species, but it is not considered to be an endophyte. While screening corn for fungi and bacteria with potential for biocontrol of various corn diseases, the surface-sterilized kernels of one unknown Italian corn cultivar produced fungus-free corn seedlings with roots endophytically infected byE. cloacae. This paper describes the microscopic nature ofE. cloacae RRC 101 with corn, and the in vitro control ofFusarium moniliforme and other fungi with this bacterium. Light and electron microscopy determined that this isolate ofE. cloacae was biologically associated with corn seedling roots, where it was distributed intercellularly within the cortex and stele. This is a first report of a strain of this bacterium as an endophytic symbiont of roots. Following a topical application ofE. cloacae to kernels, and upon germination this bacterium readily infected roots of two other corn cultivars. The bacterium was observed within the endosperm of germinating corn seedling, but germination was not affected. Further, the bacterium was isolated from leaves and stems of 3- to 6-week-old seedlings indicating that the above ground portions of corn were also colonized. There was no evidence of damage to cells of the root during a three to four week observation period. This bacterium was antagonistic to several isolates of the corn pathogenFusarium moniliforme, and to two other species of fungi, all of which produce mycotoxins on corn.