The rhizosphere of aquatic plants is a habitat for cable bacteria.FEMS Microbiol Ecol 2019; 95(6)FM
Cable bacteria belonging to the family Desulfobulbaceae couple sulfide oxidation and oxygen reduction by long-distance electron transfer over centimeter distances in marine and freshwater sediments. In such habitats, aquatic plants can release oxygen into the rhizosphere. Hence, the rhizosphere constitutes an ideal habitat for cable bacteria, which have been reported on seagrass roots recently. Here, we employ experimental approaches to investigate activity, abundance, and spatial orientation of cable bacteria next to the roots of the freshwater plant Littorella uniflora. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), in combination with oxygen-sensitive planar optodes, demonstrated that cable bacteria densities are enriched at the oxic-anoxic transition zone next to roots compared to the bulk sediment in the same depth. Scanning electron microscopy showed cable bacteria along root hairs. Electric potential measurements showed a lateral electric field over centimeters from the roots, indicating cable bacteria activity. In addition, FISH revealed that cable bacteria were present in the rhizosphere of Oryza sativa (rice), Lobelia cardinalis and Salicornia europaea. Hence, the interaction of cable bacteria with aquatic plants of different growth forms and habitats indicates that the plant root-cable bacteria interaction might be a common property of aquatic plant rhizospheres.