Variovorax is a metabolically diverse genus of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) that engages in mutually beneficial interactions between plants and microbes. Unlike most PGPR, Variovorax cannot synthesize the phytohormone indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) via tryptophan. However, we found that V. boronicumulans strain CGMCC 4969 could produce IAA using indole-3-acetonitrile (IAN) as the precursor. Thus, in the present study, the IAA synthesis mechanism of V. boronicumulans CGMCC 4969 was investigated. V. boronicumulans CGMCC 4969 metabolized IAN to IAA through both a nitrilase-dependent pathway and a nitrile hydratase (NHase) and amidase-dependent pathway. Cobalt enhanced the metabolic flux via the NHase/amidase, by which IAN was rapidly converted to indole-3-acetamide (IAM) and in turn to IAA. IAN stimulated the metabolic flux via the nitrilase, by which IAN was rapidly converted to IAA. Subsequently, the IAA was degraded. V. boronicumulans CGMCC 4969 could use IAN as the sole carbon and nitrogen source for growth. Genome sequencing confirmed the IAA synthesis pathways. Gene cloning and overexpression in Escherichia coli indicated that NitA has the nitrilase activity, and IamA has the amidase activity to respectively transform IAN and IAM to IAA. Interestingly, NitA showed a close genetic relationship with the nitrilase of the phytopathogen Pseudomonas syringae Quantitative PCR analysis indicated that the NHase/amidase system is constitutively expressed, whereas the nitrilase is inducible. The present study helps our understanding of the versatile functions of Variovorax nitrile-converting enzymes that mediate IAA synthesis and the interactions between plants and these bacteria.IMPORTANCE We demonstrated that Variovorax boronicumulans CGMCC 4969 has two enzymatic systems-nitrilase and nitrile hydratase/amidase-that convert indole-3-acetonitrile (IAN) to the important plant hormone indole-3-acetic acid (IAA). The two IAA synthesis systems have very different regulatory mechanisms, affecting the IAA synthesis rate and duration. The nitrilase was induced by IAN, which was rapidly converted to IAA; subsequently IAA was rapidly consumed for cell growth. The NHase and amidase system was constitutively expressed and slowly but continuously synthesized IAA. In addition to synthesizing IAA from IAN, CGMCC 4969 has a rapid IAA degradation system, which would be helpful for a host plant to eliminate redundant IAA. This study indicates that the plant growth-promoting rhizobacterium V. boronicumulans CGMCC 4969 has the potential to be used by host plants to regulate the IAA level. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.
Journal: Applied and environmental microbiology