Crop Biotech Update

Microbiome Study Provides Strategies for Healthy and Climate-Resistant Fruit and Vegetables

December 9, 2021
A study led by TU Graz is providing evidence for the co-evolution of plants and microorganisms. Photo Source: Lunghammer - TU Graz

A study led by scientists from Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) in Austria shows that apple trees inherit their microbiome to the same extent as their genes. The results of this study lay the foundation for new breeding strategies for healthy and climate-robust fruit and vegetables.

Microbiome research is only a few decades old, but it has already produced some ground-breaking findings. One such finding is that humans, animals, and plants have very specifically adapted microbiomes that have taken over essential functions. Both organism and microbiome have evolved in co-evolution, i.e. in mutual influence. Today, all organisms are considered to be "holobionts" – jointly functioning units with numerous specialized microorganisms.

The interdisciplinary team of researchers compared the microbiome of modern domesticated apple crops with the microbiome of their wild ancestors and the microbiome of closely related species. Using molecular analyses and bioinformatic methods, the group determined for the first time that the microbiome is inherited to the same extent as the genes. Apples that are genetically similar thus also harbor a similar microbiome. And surprisingly, modern apple varieties still contain some of the microbiome of their wild ancestors.

For more details, read the article in TU Graz News.

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