The genus Gluconacetobacter comprises different species with agricultural and industrial importance. This study aims at determining the presence of Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus and Gluconacetobacter sacchari in sugarcane and tomato crops considering their potential biotechnological applications. Bacteria were isolated from roots, stems and leaf tissues and identified using phenotypic and biochemical evaluations, and molecular and phylogenetic analyses. Isolates were characterized by the production of indolic compounds, nitrogenase activity and phosphate solubilization. For this, G. diazotrophicus ATCC 49037 was used as the reference strain. The results showed that all isolates of native G. diazotrophicus exhibited equal or better phosphate solubilization index (SI) for CaCO3 and AlPO4 than reference strain. For G. sacchari, GIBI031 isolate displayed better SI for both phosphate sources and GIBI014 isolate had better SI only for AlPO4. G. diazotrophicus GIBI029 had a greater production of indolic compounds than ATCC 49037 strain in the presence of tryptophan. All isolates except G sacchari GIBI031, showed better nitrogenase activity than the control. These results constitute the first report confirming the presence of G. diazotrophicus and G. sacchari associated with sugarcane in Colombia. In addition, this is the first report on the presence of G. sacchari in tomato under natural conditions. Finally, one G. sacchari isolate presented nitrogenase activity despite the fact that this is a differential characteristic between G. diazotrophicus and G. sacchari. These findings have ecological significance and will advance research towards the evaluation of plant-soil interactions involving these bacteria in crops other than sugarcane. The isolates found are potential candidates for the development of novel biotechnological processes for production of new alternative biofertilizers considering the significant plant-growth promotion properties determined in this work.
Key words: Sugarcane, tomato, Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus, Gluconacetobacter sacchari, indolic compounds, phosphate solubilization, nitrogenase activity.
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