Rational Approaches to Improving the Isolation of Endophytic Actinobacteria from Australian Native Trees

Onuma Kaewkla, Christopher Franco

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    68 Citations (Scopus)


    In recent years, new actinobacterial species have been isolated as endophytes of plants and shrubs and are sought after both for their role as potential producers of new drug candidates for the pharmaceutical industry and as biocontrol inoculants for sustainable agriculture. Molecular-based approaches to the study of microbial ecology generally reveal a broader microbial diversity than can be obtained by cultivation methods. This study aimed to improve the success of isolating individual members of the actinobacterial population as pure cultures as well as improving the ability to characterise the large numbers obtained in pure culture. To achieve this objective, our study successfully employed rational and holistic approaches including the use of isolation media with low concentrations of nutrients normally available to the microorganism in the plant, plating larger quantities of plant sample, incubating isolation plates for up to 16 weeks, excising colonies when they are visible and choosing Australian endemic trees as the source of the actinobacteria. A hierarchy of polyphasic methods based on culture morphology, amplified 16S rRNA gene restriction analysis and limited sequencing was used to classify all 576 actinobacterial isolates from leaf, stem and root samples of two eucalypts: a Grey Box and Red Gum, a native apricot tree and a native pine tree. The classification revealed that, in addition to 413 Streptomyces spp., isolates belonged to 16 other actinobacterial genera: Actinomadura (two strains), Actinomycetospora (six), Actinopolymorpha (two), Amycolatopsis (six), Gordonia (one), Kribbella (25), Micromonospora (six), Nocardia (ten), Nocardioides (11), Nocardiopsis (one), Nonomuraea (one), Polymorphospora (two), Promicromonospora (51), Pseudonocardia (36), Williamsia (two) and a novel genus Flindersiella (one). In order to prove novelty, 12 strains were characterised fully to the species level based on polyphasic taxonomy. One strain represented a novel genus in the family Nocardioides, and the other 11 strains were accepted as novel species. In summary, the holistic isolation strategies were successful in obtaining significant culturable actinobacterial diversity within Australian native trees that includes rare and novel species.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)384-393
    Number of pages10
    JournalMicrobial Ecology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


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