Identification of extracellular glycerophosphodiesterases in Pseudomonas and their role in soil organic phosphorus remineralisation.

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In soils, phosphorus (P) exists in numerous organic and inorganic forms. However, plants can only acquire inorganic orthophosphate (Pi), meaning global crop production is frequently limited by P availability. To overcome this problem, rock phosphate fertilisers are heavily applied, often with negative environmental and socio-economic consequences. The organic P fraction of soil contains phospholipids that are rapidly degraded resulting in the release of bioavailable Pi. However, the mechanisms behind this process remain unknown. We identified and experimentally confirmed the function of two secreted glycerolphosphodiesterases, GlpQI and GlpQII, found in Pseudomonas stutzeri DSM4166 and Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25, respectively. A series of co-cultivation experiments revealed that in these Pseudomonas strains, cleavage of glycerolphosphorylcholine and its breakdown product G3P occurs extracellularly allowing other bacteria to benefit from this metabolism. Analyses of metagenomic and metatranscriptomic datasets revealed that this trait is widespread among soil bacteria with Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria, specifically Betaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria, the likely major players.