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Pseudomonas Fluorescens Uses in Agriculture

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson is going to describe an organism known as Pseudomonas fluorescens. You'll learn what it is and how it's important to agriculture, including specific examples.

What's in a Name?

Someone who is named John Goldsmith may have, at one point in time, had a family member that was a goldsmith. Someone with the name of Bob Johnson may have had a family member who was a son of John. Names can reveal something about us or our history.

The same goes for many bacterial names, as is the case with Pseudomonas fluorescens. Let's find out what this is and how it applies to agriculture.

What is Pseudomonas fluorescens?

Pseudomonas fluorescens is a type of bacterium. Specifically, most strains of this bacterium are obligate aerobes. In other words, it depends on oxygen for survival. It is also a gram-negative bacterium. This means it has a relatively thin cell wall compared to gram-positive bacteria. Additionally, it is a bacillus. A bacillus is a bacterium that has a rod-like shape to it.

So what's in a name? Like the last names Goldsmith and Johnson reveal something, the last name (species name) of P. fluorescens reveals that it is able to produce a fluorescent pigment. This particular one, called pyoverdin, causes it to glow green!

Uses in Agriculture

But the most important thing you should recall about this bacterium for this lesson's sake is that it is a bacterium that inhabits soil, plants, and water. In fact, P. fluorescens is quite adapted towards living in the soil. Specifically, they like to live around the roots of various agricultural crops.

By residing near the plants, they get nutrients and environmental protection. Basically, they get a home and food, like a bed and breakfast. In exchange, they destroy things that might be potentially harmful to the plants. These things include toxins and pollutants, like TNT, styrene, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

But, wait! There's more. P. fluorescens can multiply very quickly. This means they can rapidly colonize a space and indirectly protect a crop. In other words, they can use their sheer numbers to outcompete and outmuscle other harmful microbes for space and nutrients.

P. fluorescens can also directly protect agricultural crops and their seeds and roots from organisms that would otherwise infect and destroy the crops. How so? P. fluorescens can kill harmful bacteria and fungi by producing substances like antibiotics, which kill bacteria, and hydrogen cyanide, a poison.

There's another direct way by which P. fluorescens helps in agriculture. It produces substances that can help a plant obtain important nutrients.

As concrete examples of all of the above, scientific studies have shown that:

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