By Meghan Bialt-DeCelie
Image acquired from: http://www.the-scientist.com/images/January2013/microbe_infograph_full.jpg
Figure 1: The community of microorganisms that live around and in the tissues of plants can affect the plant’s growth and development.
When thinking of ways to improve plant growth, one may think of relations between genetics, climate and available nutrition. However, Dr. Ulrich Mueller of the University of Texas and Dr. Joel Sachs of University of California along with integrative biologists chose to explore the importance of soil microbiomes on plant growth and development instead.
A microbiome is a community of microbes comprised of organisms such as eubacteria, fungi, protozoa, archaea, and viruses that can exist in multiple tissue types of the host. Mueller and Sachs reported how the microbiomes could affect a plant’s ability to endure stresses such as drought, disease, and pathogens. They demonstrated the effect of microbiomes by highlighting studies that exhibited variation in growth of genetically identical Arabidopsis thaliana (a model plant similar to cabbage or broccoli) with differing root microbiomes.
Insight on microbiome engineering could offer a cheaper and less environmentally harmful method for adapting plants to be more sustainable.
Root microbiome engineering improves plant growth. Science Daily (2015).
U.G. Mueller, J.L. Sachs, Engineering microbiomes to improve plant and animal health. Trends in Microbiology. 23.10, 606-617 (2015).