Endophytic Bacteria Colonizing the Petiole of the Desert Plant Zygophyllum dumosum Boiss: Possible Role in Mitigating Stress

Jansirani Srinivasan, Janardan Khadka, Nurit Novoplansky, Osnat Gillor, Gideon Grafi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Zygophyllum dumosum is a dominant shrub in the Negev Desert whose survival is accom-plished by multiple mechanisms including abscission of leaflets to reduce whole plant transpiration while leaving the fleshy, wax-covered petioles alive but dormant during the dry season. Petioles that can survive for two full growing seasons maintain cell component integrity and resume metabolic activity at the beginning of the winter. This remarkable survival prompted us to investigate endo-phytic bacteria colonizing the internal tissues of the petiole and assess their role in stress tolerance. Twenty-one distinct endophytes were isolated by culturing from surface-sterile petioles and identified by sequencing of the 16S rDNA. Sequence alignments and the phylogenetic tree clustered the isolated endophytes into two phyla, Firmicutes and Actinobacteria. Most isolated endophytes displayed a relatively slow growth on nutrient agar, which was accelerated by adding petiole extracts. Metabolic analysis of selected endophytes showed several common metabolites whose level is affected by petiole extract in a species-dependent manner including phosphoric acid, pyroglutamic acid, and glutamic acid. Other metabolites appear to be endophyte-specific metabolites, such as proline and trehalose, which were implicated in stress tolerance. These results demonstrate the existence of multiple endophytic bacteria colonizing Z. dumosum petioles with the potential role in maintaining cell integrity and functionality via synthesis of multiple beneficial metabolites that mitigate stress and contribute to stress tolerance.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number484
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • 16S rRNA genes
  • Actinobacteria
  • Desert plants
  • Endophyte metabolites
  • Firmicutes
  • Phyllosphere endophytic bacteria
  • Stress-related metabolites
  • Zygophyllum dumosum

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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