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Gluconacetobacter xylinus is a plant-associated bacterium best studied for its cellulose production. Bacterial cellulose is important in facilitating plant-microbe interactions but little is known about the effect that exogenous phytohormones have on bacterial cellulose synthesis or the growth of G. xylinus. We characterized the growth, development and effect on pellicle characteristics caused by exogenous indole-3- acetic acid (IAA), gibberellic acid (GA), abscisic acid (ABA) and zeatin (Z) over a range of concentrations (1 nM to 100 μM). These phytohormones are plant growth regulators known to be involved plant development including fruit ripening and stress tolerance. Each of these hormones stimulated G. xylinus growth and influenced its pellicle characteristics. Exogenous IAA had the greatest effect on G. xylinus pellicles. Growth in IAA produced thin pellicles with very little cellulose. In general, pellicle wet weight was inversely proportional to the bacterial cellulose yield when cultures were grown in the presence of ABA, suggesting ABA influenced pellicle density and hydration. The crystallinity index, CI (IR) of cellulose produced in the presence of each phytohormone over a variety of concentrations was determined by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The observed effect on cellulose crystallinity was concentration and hormone dependent. GA caused the greatest alterations in crystallinity with the highest CI (IR)=0.94 at 1 μM and the lowest CI (IR)=0.47 at 500 nM. Endogenous production of hormones by G. xylinus was investigated by high performance liquid chromatography of extracts prepared from both cell pellets and culture supernatants. We found G. xylinus synthesized GA, ABA and Z but did not produce IAA.
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