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Occurrence and molecular diversity of the Fit insect toxin locus in plant-beneficial pseudomonads

By B. Ruffner, M. Péchy-Tarr, C. Keel and M. Maurhofer


The application of plant-beneficial pseudomonads provides a promising alternative to chemical pest management in agriculture. The fact that Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA0 and Pf-5, both well-known biocontrol agents of fungal root diseases, exhibit also potent insecticidal activity is of particular interest, as these plant-beneficial bacteria naturally colonize the rhizosphere of important crop plants. Insecticidal activity in these strains depends on a novel locus encoding the production of a protein toxin termed Fit (for P. fluorescens insecticidal toxin). To gain a better understanding of the ecological relevance of the Pseudomonas anti-insect activity, we have begun to investigate the occurrence and molecular diversity of the Fit toxin genes among root-associated pseudomonads. To this end, we have screened a large world-wide collection of fluorescent Pseudomonas sp. isolated from the roots of different plant species using molecular fingerprinting techniques. The strains are already well characterized for exoproduct patterns and disease-suppressive ability and are currently being tested for insecticidal activity in a greater wax moth larvae assay system

Year: 2009
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