A tripartite microbial reporter gene system for real-time assays of soil nutrient status

Dominic Standing, Andy A Meharg, Ken Killham, Andrew Meharg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Plant-derived carbon is the substrate which drives the rate of microbial assimilation and turnover of nutrients, in particular N and P, within the rhizosphere. To develop a better understanding of rhizosphere dynamics, a tripartite reporter gene system has been developed. We used three lux-marked Pseudomonas fluorescens strains to report on soil (1) assimilable carbon, (2) N-status, and (3) P-status. In vivo studies using soil water, spiked with C, N and P to simulate rhizosphere conditions, showed that the tripartite reporter system can provide real-time assessment of carbon and nutrient status. Good quantitative agreement for bioluminescence output between reference material and soil water samples was found for the C and P reporters. With regard to soil nitrate, the minimum bioavailable concentration was found to be greater than that analytically detectable in soil water. This is the first time that bioavailable soil C, N and P have been quantified using a tripartite reporter gene system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-9
Number of pages5
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Microbiology


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