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1.  Plant Growth Promotion Potential Is Equally Represented in Diverse Grapevine Root-Associated Bacterial Communities from Different Biopedoclimatic Environments 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:491091.
Plant-associated bacteria provide important services to host plants. Environmental factors such as cultivar type and pedoclimatic conditions contribute to shape their diversity. However, whether these environmental factors may influence the plant growth promoting (PGP) potential of the root-associated bacteria is not widely understood. To address this issue, the diversity and PGP potential of the bacterial assemblage associated with the grapevine root system of different cultivars in three Mediterranean environments along a macrotransect identifying an aridity gradient were assessed by culture-dependent and independent approaches. According to 16S rRNA gene PCR-DGGE, the structure of endosphere and rhizosphere bacterial communities was highly diverse (P = 0.03) and was associated with a cultivar/latitudinal/climatic effect. Despite being diverse, the bacterial communities associated with Egyptian grapevines shared a higher similarity with the Tunisian grapevines than those cultivated in North Italy. A similar distribution, according to the cultivar/latitude/aridity gradients, was observed for the cultivable bacteria. Many isolates (23%) presented in vitro multiple stress resistance capabilities and PGP activities, the most frequent being auxin synthesis (82%), insoluble phosphate solubilisation (61%), and ammonia production (70%). The comparable numbers and types of potential PGP traits among the three different environmental settings indicate a strong functional homeostasis of beneficial bacteria associated with grape root.
doi:10.1155/2013/491091
PMCID: PMC3708380  PMID: 23878810
2.  A Drought Resistance-Promoting Microbiome Is Selected by Root System under Desert Farming 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48479.
Background
Traditional agro-systems in arid areas are a bulwark for preserving soil stability and fertility, in the sight of “reverse desertification”. Nevertheless, the impact of desert farming practices on the diversity and abundance of the plant associated microbiome is poorly characterized, including its functional role in supporting plant development under drought stress.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We assessed the structure of the microbiome associated to the drought-sensitive pepper plant (Capsicum annuum L.) cultivated in a traditional Egyptian farm, focusing on microbe contribution to a crucial ecosystem service, i.e. plant growth under water deficit. The root system was dissected by sampling root/soil with a different degree of association to the plant: the endosphere, the rhizosphere and the root surrounding soil that were compared to the uncultivated soil. Bacterial community structure and diversity, determined by using Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis, differed according to the microhabitat, indicating a selective pressure determined by the plant activity. Similarly, culturable bacteria genera showed different distribution in the three root system fractions. Bacillus spp. (68% of the isolates) were mainly recovered from the endosphere, while rhizosphere and the root surrounding soil fractions were dominated by Klebsiella spp. (61% and 44% respectively). Most of the isolates (95%) presented in vitro multiple plant growth promoting (PGP) activities and stress resistance capabilities, but their distribution was different among the root system fractions analyzed, with enhanced abilities for Bacillus and the rhizobacteria strains. We show that the C. annuum rhizosphere under desert farming enriched populations of PGP bacteria capable of enhancing plant photosynthetic activity and biomass synthesis (up to 40%) under drought stress.
Conclusions/Significance
Crop cultivation provides critical ecosystem services in arid lands with the plant root system acting as a “resource island” able to attract and select microbial communities endowed with multiple PGP traits that sustain plant development under water limiting conditions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048479
PMCID: PMC3485337  PMID: 23119032
4.  Strategy for In Situ Detection of Natural Transformation-Based Horizontal Gene Transfer Events▿ †  
A strategy is described that enables the in situ detection of natural transformation in Acinetobacter baylyi BD413 by the expression of a green fluorescent protein. Microscale detection of bacterial transformants growing on plant tissues was shown by fluorescence microscopy and indicated that cultivation-based selection of transformants on antibiotic-containing agar plates underestimates transformation frequencies.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02185-07
PMCID: PMC2258602  PMID: 18165369
5.  Advantages of Using Microbial Technology over Traditional Chemical Technology in Removal of Black Crusts from Stone Surfaces of Historical Monuments▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(17):5671-5675.
This study compares two cleaning methods, one involving an ammonium carbonate-EDTA mixture and the other involving the sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio vulgaris subsp. vulgaris ATCC 29579, for the removal of black crust (containing gypsum) on marble of the Milan Cathedral (Italy). In contrast to the chemical cleaning method, the biological procedure resulted in more homogeneous removal of the surface deposits and preserved the patina noble under the black crust. Whereas both of the treatments converted gypsum to calcite, allowing consolidation, the chemical treatment also formed undesirable sodium sulfate.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00394-07
PMCID: PMC2042061  PMID: 17601804
6.  Synthetic Consolidants Attacked by Melanin-Producing Fungi: Case Study of the Biodeterioration of Milan (Italy) Cathedral Marble Treated with Acrylics▿  
Monuments and artistic stone surfaces are often consolidated and protected with synthetic polymers, in particular, acrylics. Although it is generally thought that acrylic polymers are resistant to biodeterioration, we report for the first time the systematic occurrence of dematiaceous meristematic fungi on many marble samples of the cathedral in Milan (Italy) previously treated with this material. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy applied to the Milan cathedral stone samples revealed characteristic features of biodeteriorated synthetic resins that differentiated them from the aged but nonbiodeteriorated samples. Samples showing biological colonization were analyzed for the presence of fungi. Cultivation and morphological characterization and methods independent from cultivation, such as denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis coupled with partial 18S rRNA gene sequencing and immunofluorescence staining with melanin-binding antibodies, showed that melanin-producing species are heavily present on stone surfaces protected with acrylic resins. This observation raises the question of the effectiveness of acrylics in protecting stone artworks.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02220-06
PMCID: PMC1797126  PMID: 17071788
7.  Improved Methodology for Bioremoval of Black Crusts on Historical Stone Artworks by Use of Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria 
An improved methodology to remove black crusts from stone by using Desulfovibrio vulgaris subsp. vulgaris ATCC 29579, a sulfate-reducing bacterium, is presented. The strain removed 98% of the sulfates of the crust in a 45-h treatment. Precipitation of black iron sulfide was avoided using filtration of a medium devoid of iron. Among three cell carriers, Carbogel proved to be superior to both sepiolite and Hydrobiogel-97, as it allowed an easy application of the bacteria, kept the system in a state where microbial activity was maintained, and allowed easy removal of the cells after the treatment.
doi:10.1128/AEM.72.5.3733-3737.2006
PMCID: PMC1472331  PMID: 16672524
8.  Comparison of Different Primer Sets for Use in Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis of Complex Bacterial Communities 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2004;70(10):6147-6156.
ITSF and ITSReub, constituting a new primer set designed for the amplification of the 16S-23S rRNA intergenic transcribed spacers, have been compared with primer sets consisting of 1406F and 23Sr (M. M. Fisher and E. W. Triplett, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 65:4630-4636, 1999) and S-D-Bact-1522-b-S-20 and L-D-Bact-132-a-A-18 (L. Ranjard et al., Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 67:4479-4487, 2001), previously proposed for automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (ARISA) of complex bacterial communities. An agricultural soil and a polluted soil, maize silage, goat milk, a small marble sample from the façade of the Certosa of Pavia (Pavia, Italy), and brine from a deep hypersaline anoxic basin in the Mediterranean Sea were analyzed with the three primer sets. The number of peaks in the ARISA profiles, the range of peak size (width of the profile), and the reproducibility of results were used as indices to evaluate the efficiency of the three primer sets. The overall data showed that ITSF and ITSReub generated the most informative (in term of peak number) and reproducible profiles and yielded a wider range of spacer sizes (134 to 1,387) than the other primer sets, which were limited in detecting long fragments. The minimum amount of DNA template and sensitivity in detection of minor DNA populations were evaluated with artificial mixtures of defined bacterial species. ITSF and ITSReub amplified all the bacteria at DNA template concentrations from 280 to 0.14 ng μl−1, while the other primer sets failed to detect the spacers of one or more bacterial strains. Although the primer set consisting of ITSF and ITSReub and that of S-D-Bact-1522-b-S-20 and L-D-Bact-132-a-A-18 showed similar sensitivities for the DNA of Allorhizobium undicula mixed with the DNA of other species, the S-D-Bact-1522-b-S-20 and L-D-Bact-132-a-A-18 primer set failed to detect the DNA of Pseudomonas stutzeri.
doi:10.1128/AEM.70.10.6147-6156.2004
PMCID: PMC522057  PMID: 15466561
9.  A Randomly Amplified Polymorphic DNA Marker Specific for the Bacillus cereus Group Is Diagnostic for Bacillus anthracis 
Aiming to develop a DNA marker specific for Bacillus anthracis and able to discriminate this species from Bacillus cereus, Bacillus thuringiensis, and Bacillus mycoides, we applied the randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) fingerprinting technique to a collection of 101 strains of the genus Bacillus, including 61 strains of the B. cereus group. An 838-bp RAPD marker (SG-850) specific for B. cereus, B. thuringiensis, B. anthracis, and B. mycoides was identified. This fragment included a putative (366-nucleotide) open reading frame highly homologous to the ypuA gene of Bacillus subtilis. The restriction analysis of the SG-850 fragment with AluI distinguished B. anthracis from the other species of the B. cereus group.
PMCID: PMC91177  PMID: 10049896

Results 1-9 (9)