Results and Discussion

SEM showed that Ell colonized the rice rhizoplane with a slightly clustered distribution, entered into small crevices at epidermal junctions, and developed eroded epidermal pits (Yanni et al. 2001; Mateos et al. 2001). Geostatistics produced an exponential isotropic model that accurately defined the distribution of the surface-colonized bacteria, indicating a spatial dependence of interacting cells that influences colonization by neighboring bacteria within a separation distance of up to ~9|J.m. Block kriging analysis provided vivid, continuous interpolation maps of the intensity of bacterial colonization, even in areas of the root that could not be examined. This study established statistical proof of the existence and the relevant spatial scale of bacterial cell-cell interactions that influence their colonization of plant root surfaces, and provides a foundation of information upon which colonization of rice by different endophytic strains of rhizobia can be compared quantitatively.

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