Saprophytic Gram-positive bacteria in the genus Streptomyces are the
most widely studied and well known genus of the Actinomycetals. Streptomycetes
usually inhabit soil and are important decomposers. They are able to metabolize
many different compmmds including sugars, alcohols, amino acids and aromatic
compormds by producing extracellular hydrolytic enzymes. Their metabolic diversity
is due to their extremely large genome which has hnndreds of transcription factors
that control gene expression, allowing them to respond to specific needs.
Streptomycetes are also of medical and industrial importance because they synthesize
antibiotics. There are several theories which may explain antibiotic production;
the most widely accepted one being that antimicrobial compormds help the organism
compete with other organisms in the relatively nutrient-depleted envirornnent
of the soil by reducing competition. Over 50 main antibiotics have been isolated
from Streptomycetes species, including Streptomycin, Neomycin, Chloramphenicol
In modem agriculture, pesticide application is still an invaluable and effective
method to control plant diseases. However, since use of agrochemicals is falling
into disfavor because of envirornnental pollution and detrimental effects on
a variety of nontarget organisms, potential use of microbes based biocontrol
agents as replacement or supplements for agrochemicals has been addressed in
many recent reports. With the increased concern about conserving
natural resources as air, soil and water, natural or biological control of plant
diseases has received increased emphasis. Biological control of plant diseases
is slow, gives few quick profits, but can be long lasting, inexpensive and harmless
to life. Biocontrol systems do not eliminate neither pathogen nor disease but
bring them into natural balance. In search for biocontrol agents,
several bacteria as Pseudomonas flourescens, Bacillus subtilis and Erwinia
herbicola Eh252 have shown activity against Erwinia carotovora subsp.
Streptomyces spp. have been shown to have characteristics which make them useful as biocontrol agents against soil-borne bacterial plant pathogens. These characteristics include the production of different kinds of secondary metabolites and biologically active substances of high commercial value such as enzymes and antibiotics and they are of the major contributors to the biological buffering of soils and have roles in decomposition of organic matter conductive to crop production[8-11]. Several workers have reported that in vitro studies have documented satisfactory results in use of Streptomyces against some root pathogens. For example, Streptomyces sp. strain 5406 has been used in China for the last 35 years to protect cotton crops against soil-borne pathogens. The results even show that use of Streptomyces enhances grovvth of the crops and vegetables[12-13].
With extended envirornnental diversity, however, the actinomycetes microflora of the Iranian soils has not been well explored with the goal of exploring new means of biocontrols. With the respect to their role in biological control of soil-borne bacterial-pathogens, at the present research 11 0 isolates of actinomycetes were isolated from agricultural soils of Kerman province, Iran and screened against worldwide destructive soil born plant pathogen, E. carotovora subsp. carotovora. However, there is no published reports on Streptomyces use as biocontrol agent against E. carotovora subsp. carotovora and so this research is being the first report on the issue.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Culture media: A synthetic medium, Casein Glycerin (or starch) Agar
(CGA) was used for screening and isolating of actinomycetes which composed of:
glycerol or soluble starch, 10 g; casein, 0.3 g; KNO3. 2 g; NaCl,
2 g; K2HPO4, 2 g; MgS04.7H2O, 0.05
g; CaCO3, 0.02 g; FeS04.7H2,O, 0.01 g and agar,
18 gin 1 L of distilled H2O (pH 7 .2). In submerged
cultures, agar was excluded (CG medium). Actinomycetes colonies with different
morphologies were selected and transferred to CGA slants rmder refrigeration
for further studies[14-15].
Preparation of bacterium: E. carotovora subsp. carotovora was kind gift of Dr. Rahimian, Department of Plant Pathology, College of Agricultural Sciences, University of Sari, Iran. This bacterium was rejuvenated on nutrient agar (NA) (Difco) at 27-29°C. Stock cultures stored at 4°C and subcultured as needed.
Isolation of actinomycetes from soil: Soil samples were collected from
grasslands, orchards and vegetable fields in different localities of Kerman
province, Iran. Several samples were selected randomly from mentioned localities
using an open-end soil borer (20 em in depth, 2.5 em in diameter) as described
by Lee and Hwang. Soil samples were taken from a depth of 10-20
em below the soil surface. The soil of the top region (10 em from the surface)
was excluded. Samples were air-dried at room temperature for 7-1 0 days and
then passed through a 0.8 mm mesh sieve and were preserved in polyethylene bags
at room temperature before use. Ten grams samples of air-dried soil were mixed
with 100 rnL sterile distilled water. The mixtures were shaken vigorously for
1 h and then allowed to settle for 1 h. One milliliter portions of soil suspensions
(diluted 10-1) were transferred to 9 mL of sterile distilled water
and subsequently diluted to 10-2, 10-3, 10-4,
10-5 and 10-6. Inocula consisted of adding aliquots of
10-3 to 10-6 soil dilutions to autoclaved CGA (1 mL-25
mL CGA) at 50°C before pouring the plates and solidification. Three replicates
were considered for each dilution. Plates were incubated at 30°C for up
to 20 days. From day 7 on, actinomycetes colonies were isolated on CGA, incubated
at 28°C for one week and stored refrigerated as pure cultures before use.
For screening studies 110 pure actinomycetes isolates were collected.
Screening procedures and in vitro antibacterial bioassays
Agar disk-method: Each actinomycetes isolate was smeared on CGA medium
as a single streak and after incubation at 28°C for 4-6 days, from well-grown
streaks 6 mm agar disks of actinomycetes colony mass was prepared by using sterile
cork borers. Disks were then aseptically transferred to NA plates having fresh
la\Vll cultures of bacterial isolates. Controls included using plain disks from
CGA medium. Plates were incubated at 29°C for 24 h and bioactivity was evaluated
by measuring the diameter of inhibition zones (DIZ, mm)[4,17].
Well diffusion-method: For evaluation of antibacterial activity of aqueous
samples, by use of sterile cork borer, wells (6x4 mm, 2 em apart) were pnnctured
in fresh bacterial la\Vll-cultures. Respective concentrations in dimethylsulfoxide:
methanol (1/1: v/v) solvent (DM solvent) were then administered to fullness
in each well. Plates were incubated at 29°C for 24 h. Bioactivity was determined
by measuring inhibitory zones (mm). Each experiment was repeated three times
and the mean of inhibitory zones recorded. Controls included use of blank wells
and use of DM solvent without test compormds.
Preparation of crude extract from submerged cultures: Active strain
was grown in submerged cultures of CG medium on rotary shakers nnder 130 rpm
at 30°C. To monitor the activity, aseptically small aliquots of culture
media were taken every 24 h for 37 days and the activity was evaluated by well
diffusion-method[4,17]. To prepare crude extracts, 1Oth or 11th day of post
inoculation which the activity reached maximum, the cultures were harvested;
spores and mycelia were excluded by filtration through two layers of cheese
cloth. The clarified sap was then dried to dark crude nnder reduced air at 50°C
and kept refrigerated before use.
Classification of Streptomyces strain 101: Streptomyces colonies
were characterized morphologically and physiologically following the direction
mentioned in the methods manual of international cooperative project for description
and deposition of cultures of Streptomyces (ISP)
Morphological characterization: Streptomyces colonies on glycerol-nitrate-casein agar were transferred onto oatmeal agar and streaked across the plate and incubated in the dark at 27°C for 21 days.
Color determination: This made for: a) Mass color or mature, sporulating
aerial surface grovvth, b) The color of substrate mycelium as viewed from the
reverse side and c) Diffusible soluble pigments other than melanin. Observation
was made after 21 days and was limited to mature cultures with heavy spore mass
surface using code for determining the color of aerial mycelium of Streptomycetes
composed by Prauser for color tabs of Baumann Farbtonkarte Atlas
Determination of morphological characteristics of the sporebearing hyphae:
The spore-bearing hyphae characteristics were determined by direct microscopic
examination of the culture surface (21 days old) on opened dishes of the crosshatched
cultures using 1 00 x magnification. The species involved in the genus Streptomyces
divide into sections: Rectus (R) or straight, flexible (F) or flexeous,
Retimculurn-Aperturn (RA) and spiral (S)
Spore morphology surface: The spore surface of the isolate was examined nnder scanning electron microscope at a magnification of 8000 to 100000 x. Preparation for the scanning electron microscope consisted of scratching the culture of 14-21 day old growing on oatmeal agar by a sterile needle and depositing the specimen onto specimen aluminum stubs which held by a piece of double stick scotch tape. The stubs were placed in a sputter coater (Polaron Equipment Ltd. E 5000) for 2-3 min. (approximately 150 Ac of gold deposited). The gold sputterer was set at 1-4 kv, 20 rnA and 0.1 torr. After coating, the specimens were viewed with a Lutz 1 00 A scanning electron microscope with an accelerating voltage of 20 kv. Secondary electron nnages were recorded with black and white fihn.
Melanin production: Peptone iron agar was used for the detection of deep brown to black diffusible pigment (+). Absence of the color was recorded as negative (-).
Carbon utilization: The following sugars were tested, L-arabinose, D-xylose,
meso-inositol, D-mannitol, D-fructose, rhamnose, raffinose and sucrose. Preparation
was done as described in the rsplSP.
Characterization of Streptomyces strain 101 to species level was based
on morphological, cultural and physiological characteristics following the directions
given for the International Streptomyces Project (ISP).
General morphology was determined on oatmeal agar plates, incubated in the dark
at 27°C for 21 days, by direct light microscopy examination of the surface
of crosshatched cultures. Colors were determined according to the scale adopted
by Prauserand melanin reactions were detected by growing the
isolate on at least one of the ISP media (Nos. 6 and 7)[18,21] Strain 1 01 was identified
as a new strain of Streptomyces plicatus.
Solubility studies of active crude in organic solvents: To evaluate
the relative polarity of the active principle (s) present in the crude, 2 mL
of each of H2 0, methanol, DMSO: Methanol (1:1, v /v), chloroform, dichloromethane
and hexane were added to 20 mg pulverized-crude samples separately and vortexed
for 20 min. Each sample was then centrifuged at 3000 rpm for 15 min using a
bench low speed centrifuge. Supernatants and pellets were separated, dried nnder
reduced air at 50°C and assayed at concentration of 10 mg mL-1by agar diffusion-method.
Detennination of Minimum Inhibitory Concentrations (MIC): To measure the J'v:liC values, two-fold serial dilutions of20, 10, 5, 2.5, 1.25, 0.625 and 0.312 mg mL-1of the crude extract were prepared in DM solvent and assayed by well diffusion-method as described by Shabidi Bonjar[23,24]. The J'v:liC was defined as the lowest concentration able to inhibit any visible bacterial growth. All data represent average of three replicated experiments.
Detennination of shelf life or stability of active crude: To measure
the stability of the active crude in soluble state, 5 mg mL-1 samples were prepared
in distilled water and placed in small vials. These samples were kept at room
temperature and tested using agar diffusion-method for anti E. carotovora
subsp. carotovora activity at 14 days intervals as long as the activity
Screening and bioassays: In screening for actinomycetes having antibacterial
activity, over 110 isolates were screened from which one isolate showed activity
against E. carotovora subsp. carotovora. Colony morphology of
Streptomyces plicatus strain 101 at 40 x magnification is shown in Fig.
1. Spore chain of this strain is shown in
||Morphological and physiological characterization of Streptomyces
plicatus strain 101
|S: Spiral, LC: Long chain, Gy: Grey, 0: Negative, Sm: Smooth,
-: No utilization,+: Utilization
||Bioassay results of solubility tests of the antibacterial
principle (s) of Streptomyces plicatus strain 101 against Erwinia C(U"otovora
subsp. C(U"ofovora in fractions of different solvents indicated by
well diffusion-method at 10 mg mL- 1 of dry crude
|S*: supernatant, P*: pellet
. The bioassay results against E. carotovora
are indicated in Fig. 3
Taxonomy of actinomycetes: The active strain was identified as Streptomyces
plicatus (strain 101). Based on the literature reviews; it is concluded
that it is a new record from Iran. Table 1 shows the complete
characterization criteria for this isolate based on morphological and biochemical
properties. Scanning electron micrograph of spore chains of strain 101 is indicated
in Fig. 4.
Detennination of MIC: In well diffusion-method, MIC of the crude was determined as 5 mg mL-1 against E. carotovora subsp. carotovora.
Solubility of active crude in organic solvents: Solubility results are
indicated in Table 2. As the results show, apparently the
active principle (s) has a polar nature since activity is recoverable only in
H2O, methanol supernatants and pellets of chloroform, dichloromethane
and hexane treatments.
Shelf life or stability of active crude: Stability of the active crude in distilled water at room temperature (12-30°C) was about 30 days, assayed by using agar diffusion-method against E. carotovora subsp. carotovora.
Actinomycetes produce more than half of the world's antimicrobials and are
consequently becoming valuable tools in the field of biological control. Antibacterial
activity of the isolate formd in this study highlights its importance as candidate
for further investigation in biological control of tested pathogen.
In ideal biological control measures, proper microorganisms are those having well adaptation in soil and rhizosphere exerting effective antagonistic activity against soil pathogens persistently. In this regard soil-driven actinomycetes do not have adverse effect or alter the biological buffering of soils as chemical measures do. They should receive higher attention in research for biological controls worldwide. In this regard, soil-driven Streptomyces do not have adverse effect or alter the biological buffering of soils; so one possible approach to biological control of E. carotovora subsp. carotovora is to inoculate soil with selected antagonists.
E. carotovora subsp. carotovora is an important problem in world
agriculture. Genetic engineering provides an opportmrity to protect plants from
|| Colony morphology of flreptomyces plicatus strain
101 wtder binocular microscope at 40 x magnification
|| Spore chain morphology of Streptomyces plicatus strain
101 wtder light microscope at 400 x magnification
||Bioassay results of flreptomyces plicatus strain 101
against Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora measured in two
methods; A) Agar disk-method, Clockwise from top: S. plicatus strain
101 and 7 other tested Actinomycetes isolates. B) Well Diffusion-Method,
Clockwise from top: Blank 1 (control), DMSO: Methanol solvent (control),
Growth medium (control), S. plicatus strain 101 crude extract at
10 mg mL-1, S. plicatus strain 101 crude extract at 20
mg mL-1 and middle: Blank 2 (control)
|| Scanning electron micrograph of spore chains of Streptomyces
plicatus strain 101
diseases and to reduce the use of synthetic bactericides. The genes for antibacterial
metabolites can be engineered into plants to increase the resistance of crop
plants to bacterial attack, decreasing the use of envirornnentally rmfriendly
chemicals. The major factor limiting the application of this technology is the
identification and isolation of useful genes that code for antibacterial metabolites.
Streptomyces plicatus strain 101 1s a proper candidate for genetic engineering
of agriculturally important crop plants for increased tolerance against E.
carotovora subsp. carotovora. Having special environmental characteristics
and being rich m actinomycetes population, the microbiology of the Iranian soils
has to be further explored for new active isolates of actinomycetes.
Thanks to Head of the Department of Graduate Studies and Research Affairs Office
of Bahonar University of Kerman for financial support of the project. Helpful
information and kind gift of E. carotovora subsp. carotovora by
Dr. Rahirnian is appreciated. This research is dedicated to 1.1:r. A. Afzalipour,
the fmmder of Bahonar University in Kerman.