Siderophore-Mediated Interactions Determine the Disease Suppressiveness of Microbial Consortia

Shaohua Gu, Tianjie Yang, Zhengying Shao, Tao Wang, Kehao Cao, Alexandre Jousset, Ville Petri Friman, Cyrus Mallon, Xinlan Mei, Zhong Wei*, Yangchun Xu, Qirong Shen, Thomas Pommier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Interactions between plant pathogens and root-associated microbes play an important role in determining disease outcomes. While several studies have suggested that steering these interactions may improve plant health, such approaches have remained challenging in practice. Because of low iron availability in most soils, competition for iron via secreted siderophore molecules might influence microbial interaction outcomes. Here, we tested if bacterial interactions mediated by iron-scavenging siderophores can be used to predict the disease suppressiveness of microbial consortia against soilborne Ralstonia solanacearum, a bacterial pathogen in the tomato rhizosphere. Iron availability significantly affected the interactions within inoculated consortia and between the consortia and the pathogen. We observed contrasting effects of siderophores and other nonsiderophore metabolites on the pathogen growth, while the siderophore effects were relatively much stronger. Specifically, disease incidence was reduced in vivo when the inoculated consortia produced siderophores that the pathogen could not use for its own growth. Employing siderophore-mediated interactions to engineer functionally robust microbial inoculants shows promise in protecting plants from soilborne pathogens. IMPORTANCE Soil-borne pathogens cause high losses in crop yields globally. The development of environmentally friendly approaches is urgently needed, but is often constrained by complex interactions between root-associated microbes and pathogens. Here, we demonstrate that the interactions within microbial consortia mediated by iron-scavenging siderophores play an important role in reducing pathogen infection and enhancing plant health. This study provides a promising and novel research direction for dealing with a wide range of microbial infections through iron exploitation, which is important for the colonization and infection of both plant and human hosts by pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00811-19
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2020


  • Microbial interactions
  • Plant health
  • Plant pathogens
  • Siderophore
  • Soil microbiology

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