Crop Biotech Update

Soil Microbiomes Can Set Plant Flowering Time

July 2, 2014

A team led by Thomas Mitchell-Olds of Duke University and Jeff Dangl of the University of North Carolina wanted to learn more about the impact of soil, specifically the microbial communities in soil, on a plant's flowering time. Flowering time has been known to be affected by temperature, water availability and pathogens, and the team wondered if microbes could also affect this particular trait in a plant's phenotype.

Duke researchers used Boechera stricta, a relative of the model plant Arabidopsis. They collected soil samples in Central Idaho, and isolated the microbes. The Boechera seeds were planted in containers of sterile soils as well as in containers of sterile soils which had been inoculated with microbes from natural habitat sites. The team found that the microbes did impact flowering time.

They found that the microbiome from a sample site delayed flowering time by 2 days. When the microbial populations from this site were compared against those from the other sample sites, the team found that: "the phyla Proteobacteria and Crenarcheota were more abundant, and Acidobacteria were less abundant, in slow-flowering compared to fast-flowering samples in soil communities."

For details, read the news release at: