Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Competition among indigenous and inoculated 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D)-degrading bacteria was studied in a native Kansas prairie soil following 2,4-D additions. The soil was inoculated with four different 2,4-D-degrading strains at densities of 10(3) cells per g of soil; the organisms used were Pseudomonas cepacia DBO1(pJP4) and three Michigan soil isolates, strain 745, Sphingomonas paucimobilis 1443, and Pseudomonas pickettii 712. Following 2,4-D additions, total soil DNA was extracted and analyzed on Southern blots by using a tfdA gene probe which detected three of the strains and another probe that detected the fourth strain, S. paucimobilis 1443, which belongs to a different class of 2,4-D degraders. P. cepacia DBO1(pJP4), a constructed strain, outcompeted the other added strains and the indigenous 2,4-D-degrading populations. The S. paucimobilis population was the secondary dominant population, and strain 745 and P. pickettii were not detected. Relative fitness coefficients determined in axenic broth cultures predicted the outcome of competition in soil for some but not all strains. Lag time was shown to be a principal determinant of competitiveness among the strains, but the lag times were significantly reduced in mixed broth cultures, which changed the competitive outcome. Plasmids containing the genes for the 2,4-D pathway were important determinants of competitiveness since plasmid pKA4 in P. cepacia DBO1 resulted in the slower growth characteristic of its original host, P. pickettii, rather than the rapid growth observed when this strain harbors pJP4.