An overview of Parafrankia (Nod+/Fix+) and Pseudofrankia (Nod+/Fix-) interactions through genome mining and experimental modeling in co-culture and co-inoculation of Elaeagnus angustifolia.

Academic Article


  • UNLABELLED: In many frankia, the ability to nodulate host plants (Nod+) and fix nitrogen (Fix+) is a common strategy. However, some frankia within the Pseudofrankia genus lack one or two of these traits. This phenomenon has been consistently observed across various actinorhizal nodule isolates, displaying Nod- and/or Fix- phenotypes. Yet, the mechanisms supporting the colonization and persistence of these inefficient frankia within nodules, both with and without symbiotic strains (Nod+/Fix+), remain unclear. It is also uncertain whether these associations burden or benefit host plants. This study delves into the ecological interactions between Parafrankia EUN1f and Pseudofrankia inefficax EuI1c, isolated from Elaeagnus umbellata nodules. EUN1f (Nod+/Fix+) and EuI1c (Nod+/Fix-) display contrasting symbiotic traits. While the prediction suggests a competitive scenario, the absence of direct interaction evidence implies that the competitive advantage of EUN1f and EuI1c is likely contingent on contextual factors such as substrate availability and the specific nature of stressors in their respective habitats. In co-culture, EUN1f outperforms EuI1c, especially under specific conditions, driven by its nitrogenase activity. Iron-depleted conditions favor EUN1f, emphasizing iron's role in microbial competition. Both strains benefit from host root exudates in pure culture, but EUN1f dominates in co-culture, enhancing its competitive traits. Nodulation experiments show that host plant preferences align with inoculum strain abundance under nitrogen-depleted conditions, while consistently favoring EUN1f in nitrogen-supplied media. This study unveils competitive dynamics and niche exclusion between EUN1f and EuI1c, suggesting that host plant may penalize less effective strains and even all strains. These findings highlight the complex interplay between strain competition and host selective pressure, warranting further research into the underlying mechanisms shaping plant-microbe-microbe interactions in diverse ecosystems. IMPORTANCE: While Pseudofrankia strains typically lack the common traits of ability to nodulate the host plant (Nod-) and/or fix nitrogen (Fix-), they are still recovered from actinorhizal nodules. The enigmatic question of how and why these unconventional strains establish themselves within nodule tissue, thriving either alongside symbiotic strains (Nod+/Fix+) or independently, while considering potential metabolic costs to the host plant, remains a perplexing puzzle. This study endeavors to unravel the competitive dynamics between Pseudofrankia inefficax strain EuI1c (Nod+/Fix-) and Parafrankia strain EU1Nf (Nod+/Fix+) through a comprehensive exploration of genomic data and empirical modeling, conducted both in controlled laboratory settings and within the host plant environment.
  • Authors

  • Gtari, Maher
  • Beauchemin, Nicholas J
  • Sarker, Indrani
  • Sen, Arnab
  • Ghodhbane-Gtari, Faten
  • Tisa, Louis
  • Publication Date

  • April 23, 2024
  • Has Subject Area


  • actinorhizal symbiosis
  • co-culture
  • co-inoculation
  • efficient strains
  • inefficient strains
  • nodulation
  • strain interaction
  • strain–plant interaction
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 38651928
  • Start Page

  • e0028824