Pseudomonas populations producing the biocontrol compounds 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol (Phl) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) were found in the rhizosphere of tobacco both in Swiss soils suppressive to Thielaviopsis basicola and in their conducive counterparts. In this study, a collection of Phl+ HCN+Pseudomonas isolates from two suppressive and two conducive soils were used to assess whether suppressiveness could be linked to soil-specific properties of individual pseudomonads. The isolates were compared based on restriction analysis of the biocontrol genes phlD and hcnBC, enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus (ERIC)-PCR profiling and their biocontrol ability. Restriction analyses of phlD and hcnBC yielded very concordant relationships between the strains, and suggested significant population differentiation occurring at the soil level, regardless of soil suppressiveness status. This was corroborated by high strain diversity (ERIC-PCR) within each of the four soils and among isolates harboring the same phlD or hcnBC alleles. No correlation was found between the origin of the isolates and their biocontrol activity in vitro and in planta. Significant differences in T. basicola inhibition were however evidenced between the isolates when they were grouped according to their biocontrol alleles. Moreover, two main Pseudomonas lineages differing by the capacity to produce pyoluteorin were evidenced in the collection. Thus, Phl+ HCN+ pseudomonads from suppressive soils were not markedly different from those from nearby conducive soils. Therefore, as far as biocontrol pseudomonads are concerned, this work yields the hypothesis that the suppressiveness of Swiss soils may rely on the differential effects of environmental factors on the expression of key biocontrol genes in pseudomonads rather than differences in population structure of biocontrol Pseudomonas subcommunities or the biocontrol potential of individual Phl+ HCN+ pseudomonad strains.
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