Involvement of Burkholderiaceae and sulfurous volatiles in disease suppressive soils
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Disease-suppressive soils are ecosystems in which plants suffer less from root infections due to the activities of specific microbial consortia. The characteristics of soils suppressive to specific fungal root pathogens are comparable to those of adaptive immunity in animals, as reported by Raaijmakers and Mazzola (Science 352:1392–3, 2016), but the mechanisms and microbial species involved in the soil suppressiveness are largely unknown. Previous taxonomic and metatranscriptome analyses of a soil suppressive to the fungal root pathogen Rhizoctonia solani revealed that members of the Burkholderiaceae family were more abundant and more active in suppressive than in non-suppressive soils. Here, isolation, phylogeny, and soil bioassays revealed a significant disease-suppressive activity for representative isolates of Burkholderia pyrrocinia, Paraburkholderia caledonica, P. graminis, P. hospita, and P. terricola. In vitro antifungal activity was only observed for P. graminis. Comparative genomics and metabolite profiling further showed that the antifungal activity of P. graminis PHS1 was associated with the production of sulfurous volatile compounds encoded by genes not found in the other four genera. Site-directed mutagenesis of two of these genes, encoding a dimethyl sulfoxide reductase and a cysteine desulfurase, resulted in a loss of antifungal activity both in vitro and in situ. These results indicate that specific members of the Burkholderiaceae family contribute to soil suppressiveness via the production of sulfurous volatile compounds.