Biofilms formed by bacteria on plant roots play an important role in maintaining an optimal rhizosphere environment that supports plant growth and fitness. Bacillus subtilis is a potent plant growth promoter, forming biofilms that play a key role in protecting the host from fungal and bacterial infections. In this work, we demonstrate that the development of B. subtilis biofilms is antagonized by specific indole derivatives that accumulate during symbiotic interactions with plant hosts. Indole derivatives are more potent signals when the plant polysaccharide xylan serves as a carbon source, a mechanism to sustain beneficial biofilms at a biomass that can be supported by the plant. Moreover, B. subtilis biofilms formed by mutants resistant to indole derivatives become deleterious to the plants due to their capacity to consume and recycle plant polysaccharides. These results demonstrate how a dynamic metabolite-based dialogue can promote homeostasis between plant hosts and their beneficial biofilm communities.
- Microbial ecology
- Molecular signaling