Enterobacter sp. 638 is an endophytic plant growth promoting gamma-proteobacterium that was isolated from the stem of poplar (Populus trichocarpa×deltoides cv. H11-11), a potentially important biofuel feed stock plant. The Enterobacter sp. 638 genome sequence reveals the presence of a 4,518,712 bp chromosome and a 157,749 bp plasmid (pENT638-1). Genome annotation and comparative genomics allowed the identification of an extended set of genes specific to the plant niche adaptation of this bacterium. This includes genes that code for putative proteins involved in survival in the rhizosphere (to cope with oxidative stress or uptake of nutrients released by plant roots), root adhesion (pili, adhesion, hemagglutinin, cellulose biosynthesis), colonization/establishment inside the plant (chemiotaxis, flagella, cellobiose phosphorylase), plant protection against fungal and bacterial infections (siderophore production and synthesis of the antimicrobial compounds 4-hydroxybenzoate and 2-phenylethanol), and improved poplar growth and development through the production of the phytohormones indole acetic acid, acetoin, and 2,3-butanediol. Metabolite analysis confirmed by quantitative RT–PCR showed that, the production of acetoin and 2,3-butanediol is induced by the presence of sucrose in the growth medium. Interestingly, both the genetic determinants required for sucrose metabolism and the synthesis of acetoin and 2,3-butanediol are clustered on a genomic island. These findings point to a close interaction between Enterobacter sp. 638 and its poplar host, where the availability of sucrose, a major plant sugar, affects the synthesis of plant growth promoting phytohormones by the endophytic bacterium. The availability of the genome sequence, combined with metabolome and transcriptome analysis, will provide a better understanding of the synergistic interactions between poplar and its growth promoting endophyte Enterobacter sp. 638. This information can be further exploited to improve establishment and sustainable production of poplar as an energy feedstock on marginal, non-agricultural soils using endophytic bacteria as growth promoting agents.
Poplar is considered as the model tree species for the production of lignocellulosic biomass destined for biofuel production. The plant growth promoting endophytic bacterium Enterobacter sp. 638 can improve the growth of poplar on marginal soils by as much as 40%. This prompted us to sequence the genome of this strain and, via comparative genomics, identify functions essential for the successful colonization and endophytic association with its poplar host. Analysis of the genome sequence, combined with metabolite analysis and quantitative PCR, pointed to a remarkable interaction between Enterobacter sp. 638 and its poplar host with the endophyte responsible for the production of a phytohormone, and a precursor for another that poplar is unable to synthesize, and where the production of the plant growth promoting compounds depended on the presence of plant synthesized compounds, such as sucrose, in the growth medium. Our results provide the basis to better understanding the synergistic interactions between poplar and Enterobacter sp. 638. This information can be further exploited to improve establishment and sustainable production of poplar on marginal, non-agricultural soils using endophytic bacteria such as Enterobacter sp. 638 as growth promoting agents.