The Caenorhabditis elegans assay: a tool to evaluate the pathogenic potential of bacterial biocontrol agents
ABSTRACT Bacterial biocontrol agents (BCAs) open up the possibility of controlling plant pathogens in an environmentally friendly way.
Although they are naturally occurring microbes, some of them can cause diseases in humans. For successful registration it
is necessary to test potentially adverse effects on the human health of at-risk candidates. Existing pathogenicity assays
are cost-intensive, time-consuming and furthermore they are often inappropriate for facultative pathogens. We developed a
new, fast and inexpensive bioassay on the basis of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, which is a well-accepted model organism to study bacterial pathogenicity. A selection of eight strains from clinical and
environmental origin as well as potential and commercial BCAs from the genera Bacillus, Pseudomonas, Serratia and Stenotrophomonas were screened for their potential to kill the nematode in an in vitro agar plate assay. Furthermore, the motility and reproductive behaviour of nematodes exposed to strains were tested in comparison
with those fed by the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa QC14-3-8 (positive control) and the negative control Escherichia coli OP50. Commercial as well as potential biocontrol strains did not display any adverse effects in all tests. In contrast, the
C. elegans assay showed slight effects for clinical and environmental Stenotrophomonas strains. Results showed that the nematode C. elegans provides a model system to indicate the pathogenic potential of BCAs in a very early stage of product development.
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ABSTRACT: Burkholderia is a diverse and dynamic genus, containing pathogenic species as well as species that form complex interactions with plants. Pathogenic strains, such as B. pseudomallei and B. mallei, can cause serious disease in mammals, while other Burkholderia strains are opportunistic pathogens, infecting humans or animals with a compromised immune system. Although some of the opportunistic Burkholderia pathogens are known to promote plant growth and even fix nitrogen, the risk of infection to infants, the elderly, and people who are immunocompromised has not only resulted in a restriction on their use, but has also limited the application of non-pathogenic, symbiotic species, several of which nodulate legume roots or have positive effects on plant growth. However, recent phylogenetic analyses have demonstrated that Burkholderia species separate into distinct lineages, suggesting the possibility for safe use of certain symbiotic species in agricultural contexts. A number of environmental strains that promote plant growth or degrade xenobiotics are also included in the symbiotic lineage. Many of these species have the potential to enhance agriculture in areas where fertilizers are not readily available and may serve in the future as inocula for crops growing in soils impacted by climate change. Here we address the pathogenic potential of several of the symbiotic Burkholderia strains using bioinformatics and functional tests. A series of infection experiments using Caenorhabditis elegans and HeLa cells, as well as genomic characterization of pathogenic loci, show that the risk of opportunistic infection by symbiotic strains such as B. tuberum is extremely low.PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e83779. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: While nematodes are most commonly known for their negative impact on plants, animals, and humans, there are a number of species which are commercially explored. This review highlights some of the most important success stories for the application of nematodes. They are used as bioindicators in ecological and toxicity studies, as model organisms for elucidating fundamental biological questions and for high throughput screening of drugs. Besides these indirect uses, direct applications include the use of Beddingia siricidicola against a major forest pest and the commercialization of Steinernema, Heterorhabditis, and Phasmarhabditis as biological pest control products. New directions for the commercialization of nematodes are the use as living food, specifically loaded with essential nutrients for various fish and shrimp larvae. Even human parasites or closely related species have been successfully used for curing autoimmune disorders and are currently in the process of being developed as drugs. With the striving development of life sciences, we are likely to see more applications for nematodes in the future. A prerequisite is that we continue to explore the vast number of yet undiscovered nematode species.Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 06/2013; · 3.69 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Certain strains of Pantoea are used as biocontrol agents for the suppression of plant diseases. However, their commercial registration is hampered in some countries because of biosafety concerns. This study compares clinical and plant-beneficial strains of P. agglomerans and related species using a phenotypic analysis approach in which plant-beneficial effect, the adverse effects in nematode models, and toxicity were evaluated. Plant-beneficial effects were determined as inhibition of apple fruit infection by Penicillium expansum and apple flower infection by Erwinia amylovora. Clinical strains had no general inhibitory activity against infection by either the fungal or bacterial plant pathogens as only one clinical strain inhibited P. expansum and three inhibited E. amylovora. In contrast, all biocontrol strains had activity against at least one of the phytopathogens, and three strains were active against both. The adverse effects in animals were evaluated in the plant-parasitic nematode Meloidogyne javanica and the bacterial feeding nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Both models indicated adverse effects of two clinical strains but were not affected by any of the plant-beneficial strains. Toxicity was evaluated by means of the hemolytic activity in blood, and genotoxicity with the Ames test. None of the strains, whether clinical or plant-beneficial, showed any evidence of toxicity.International Microbiology 01/2014; · 2.56 Impact Factor