Plant perceptions of plant growth-promoting Pseudomonas
Plant-associated Pseudomonas live as saprophytes and parasites on plant surfaces and inside plant tissues. Many plant-associated Pseudomonas promote plant growth by suppressing pathogenic micro-organisms, synthesizing growth-stimulating plant hormones and promoting increased plant disease resistance. Others inhibit plant growth and cause disease symptoms ranging from rot and necrosis through to developmental dystrophies such as galls. It is not easy to draw a clear distinction between pathogenic and plant growth-promoting Pseudomonas. They colonize the same ecological niches and possess similar mechanisms for plant colonization. Pathogenic, saprophytic and plant growth-promoting strains are often found within the same species, and the incidence and severity of Pseudomonas diseases are affected by environmental factors and host-specific interactions. Plants are faced with the challenge of how to recognize and exclude pathogens that pose a genuine threat, while tolerating more benign organisms. This review examines Pseudomonas from a plant perspective, focusing in particular on the question of how plants perceive and are affected by saprophytic and plant growth-promoting Pseudomonas (PGPP), in contrast to their interactions with plant pathogenic Pseudomonas. A better understanding of the molecular basis of plant-PGPP interactions and of the key differences between pathogens and PGPP will enable researchers to make more informed decisions in designing integrated disease-control strategies and in selecting, modifying and using PGPP for plant growth promotion, bioremediation and biocontrol.