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Crop Biotech Update

Unearthing the Plant-Microbe Interaction Mystery

August 3, 2012

"Understanding the rules that guide formation of the root microbiome are likely to contribute significantly to the success of agriculture and our understanding of the carbon cycle," said senior author Jeff Dangl, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator and UNC's John N. Couch Professor of Biology. This also served as the premise of a team of collaborating scientists of the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, te University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and researchers from the University of Bremen, Germany, Cornell University, U.S.A. and the University of Queensland, Australia.

The study published in Nature shed light on the mechanisms involved in the formation of "plant microbiome" and how plans can influence the presence of the microbiota in the rhizosphere and vice versa. Through testing 600 Arabidopsis plants and the microbial communities in root area, endophytes or microbes that exist within the plant-roots were determined. The 16S rNA gene of representative microbes were isolated, from which systematic model was assembled that enabled the team to quantify the contribution from each variable to the microbe composition.

The team found among others that microbial endophyte communities are more dependent on the host plant ‘genotype' than the rhizosphere communities; and all rhizospheres and endophytic compartments, regardless of soil type or genotype, assemble a microbial community distinct from soil. It also suggest that a subset of the soil bacterial population is typically enriched in rhizosphere samples by biophysical and/or biochemical cues issued by the plant.

For details on this news and the study, see