Biotech Updates

Scientists Uncover Plant Hormone that Boosts Plant Growth by 30%

January 10, 2024

(From left to right) Dr. Omkar Kulkarni, currently a research scientist at the L’Oréal – SCELSE joint lab; Samantha Phua, PhD student at NUS and SCELSE; and Associate Professor Sanjay Swarup, Principal Investigator at the Research Centre on Sustainable Urban Farming (SUrF) under the NUS Faculty of Science and Deputy Research Director at SCELSE. Photo Source: SCELSE

Scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE) have uncovered agro-microbials that can enhance the synergy between crops and microbes, and ultimately improve crop yield and productivity.

In the study conducted over five years since 2018, the scientists discovered that the plant hormone methyl jasmonate (MeJA), a volatile organic compound typically released by plants above ground during periods of stress – served as a shared, possibly secret, language that allows the plant to communicate with the surrounding layers of microorganisms embedded in the soil.

The research team discovered that MeJA is released underground by the plant roots in a volatile form; volatile MeJA triggers and enhances the formation of biofilms in bacteria at a distance from the plant roots; and these bacteria in the biofilm release a different set of volatile compounds that can boost plant growth by up to 30%.

Agro-microbials encompass microbial communities associated with crops that serve critical functions of plant growth promotion, disease prevention, and nitrogen fixation. They also help to keep the soil fertile by breaking down organic matter, recycling nutrients, and creating humus to retain moisture. As a follow-up to their initial findings, the team will further investigate the exact chemical nature of the compounds released by the soil microbial environment that stimulates plant growth.

For more details, read the article in NUS News.

You might also like: