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The beneficial rhizobacterium Bacillus velezensis acquires iron from roots via a type VII secretion system for colonization

By Yunpeng Liu, Xia Shu, Lin Chen, Huihui Zhang, Haichao Feng, Xiting Sun, Qin Xiong, Guangqi Li, Weibing Xun, Zhihui Xu, Nan Zhang, Corn&eacute M.J. Pieterse, Qirong Shen, Ruifu Zhang

Posted 02 Aug 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.08.01.454677

Niche colonization is the key for bacterial adaptation to the environment, and competition for iron largely determines root colonization by rhizosphere microbes. Pathogenic and beneficial symbiotic bacteria use various unique secretion systems to support plant colonization or acquire limited resources from the environment. However, ubiquitous nonsymbiotic beneficial rhizobacteria have never been reported to use a unique secretion system to facilitate colonization. Here, we show that the type VII secretion system (T7SS) of the beneficial rhizobacterium Bacillus velezensis SQR9 contributes to root colonization. Knocking out T7SS and the major secreted protein YukE in SQR9 caused a significant decrease in root colonization. Moreover, the T7SS and YukE caused iron loss in plant roots in the early stage after inoculation, which contributed to root colonization by SQR9. Interestingly, purified YukE, but not inactivated YukE, could change the permeability of root cells. We speculated that secreted YukE might be directly inserted into the root cell membrane to cause iron leakage, indicating that the bacterial protein and root cell membrane interact directly. Moreover, a bacterial siderophore and the T7SS may be coordinately involved in iron acquisition by B. velezensis SQR9 for efficient root colonization. We showed that the beneficial rhizobacterium B. velezensis SQR9 could acquire iron from roots via the T7SS for rapid colonization. These findings provide the first insight into the function of the unique secretion system in nonsymbiotic beneficial rhizobacteria and reveal a novel mutualism in which plants and bacteria might share iron in a sequential manner.

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