Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 17, 2005
Publication Date: March 20, 2006
Citation: Mattoo, A.K., Abdul Baki, A.A. 2006. Crop genetic responses to management: evidence for root-shoot communications. In: Taylor & Francis Group, editors. Biological Approaches to Sustainable Soil Systems. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. Chapter 15, p. 222-228.
Interpretive Summary: Crop productivity and protection are major concerns in a world that has become aware of the harmful effects to the environment and to animal and human health from excessive use of chemicals in agriculture. Reducing the use of chemicals in agriculture without having an adverse impact on the yield or quality of the crop is a reasonable objective for current agricultural research. Hairy-vetch-based alternative agriculture leads to improved vigor, increased fruit yield, delayed senescence, and suppression of weeds and pathogens when used for growing vegetables. Until recently we have known little about the mechanisms that are involved in these economically important responses. This is an invited book chapter in which we havesummarized research that illuminates part of the complex web of plant-soil interactions that determine agricultural success. The specific nature of genes activated in hairy-vetch-grown tomato plants brings to the fore the importance of gene x environment (G x E) interactions in determining beneficial attributes in plants. It opens possibilities for evoking from crop plants a more productive response not by adding external inputs but by altering their growing conditions. This review is important to scientists and farmers interested in developing science-based sustainable, alternative agriculture practices.
A number of successful sustainable agriculture systems for vegetable production have been developed in recent years for the mid-Atlantic states of the U.S. Of particular interest is the use of an annual legume, hairy vetch, which has proved to be a beneficial cover crop because of it fits well into different cropping rotations, is capable of high nitrogen fixation, and produces substantial biomass. Growing vegetables on hairy vetch mulch leads to improved vigor, increased fruit yield, delayed senescence, and suppression of weeds and pathogens. Until recently we have known little about the mechanisms that are involved in these economically important responses. The employment of genetic screening, gene expression studies, and quantified protein levels using specific and sensitive methods has unambiguously demonstrated the existence of certain specificity inherent within the dynamic metabolic and signaling pathways offered by cover-crop-based alternative agriculture. Root physiology and hormonal signaling contribute to the delayed senescence and disease tolerance of plants cultivated under leguminous cover-crop mulch. Our studies thus raise some important larger questions.