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Culturable diversity of bacterial endophytes associated with medicinal plants of the Western Ghats, India

Webster, Gordon ORCID:, Mullins, Alex J. ORCID:, Cunningham-Oakes, Edward, Renganathan, Arun, Aswathanarayan, Jamuna Bai, Mahenthiralingam, Eshwar ORCID: and Vittal, Ravishankar Rai 2020. Culturable diversity of bacterial endophytes associated with medicinal plants of the Western Ghats, India. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 96 (1) , fiaa147. 10.1093/femsec/fiaa147

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Bacterial endophytes are found in the internal tissues of plants and have intimate associations with their host. However, little is known about the diversity of medicinal plant endophytes (ME) or their capability to produce specialised metabolites that may contribute to therapeutic properties. We isolated 75 bacterial ME from 24 plant species of the Western Ghats, India. Molecular identification by 16S rRNA gene sequencing grouped MEs into 13 bacterial genera, with members of Gammaproteobacteria and Firmicutes being the most abundant. To improve taxonomic identification, 26 selected MEs were genome sequenced and average nucleotide identity (ANI) used to identify them to the species-level. This identified multiple species in the most common genus as Bacillus. Similarly, identity of the Enterobacterales was also distinguished within Enterobacter and Serratia by ANI and core-gene analysis. AntiSMASH identified non-ribosomal peptide synthase, lantipeptide and bacteriocin biosynthetic gene clusters (BGC) as the most common BGCs found in the ME genomes. A total of five of the ME isolates belonging to Bacillus, Serratia and Enterobacter showed antimicrobial activity against the plant pathogen Pectobacterium carotovorum. Using molecular and genomic approaches we have characterised a unique collection of endophytic bacteria from medicinal plants. Their genomes encode multiple specialised metabolite gene clusters and the collection can now be screened for novel bioactive and medicinal metabolites.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0168-6496
Funders: Wellcome Trust, BBSRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 14 September 2020
Date of Acceptance: 22 July 2020
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 22:11

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