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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Do symbiotic microbes have a role in plant evolution, performance and response to stress?

item Barrow, Jerry
item Lucero, Mary
item Reyes-vera, Isaac
item Havstad, Kris

Submitted to: Communicative and Integrative Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/17/2008
Publication Date: 9/1/2008
Citation: Barrow, J.R., Lucero, M.E., Reyes-Vera, I., Havstad, K.M. 2008. Do symbiotic microbes have a role in plant evolution, performance and response to stress? Communicative and Integrative Biology. 1:1, 69-73.

Interpretive Summary: Plants have generally been viewed by the scientific community as discrete individuals and their adaptation to changing environments is thought to be regulated by their inherent genetic and physiological capabilities. However, research in recent decades has revealed that vascular plants provide a unique internal environment suitable for varied populations of symbiotic microbes, which have assisted in their evolution and survival. These microbes contribute multiple benefits to host plants. Our research has shown that some of these microbes can be transferred to non host plants using cell cultures that result in substantial improvement in production and resistance to stress. This paper suggests a vast unexplored genetic resource and an alternative approach to utilize symbiotic microbes in the improvement of native and crop plants.

Technical Abstract: Vascular plants have been considered as autonomous organisms especially when their performance has been interpreted at the genome and cellular level. In reality, vascular plants provide a unique ecological niche for diverse communities of cryptic symbiotic microbes which often contribute multiple benefits, such as enhanced photosynthetic efficiency, nutrient and water use and tolerance to abiotic and biotic stress. These benefits are similar to improvements sought by plant scientists working to develop ecologically sustainable crops for food, fiber and biofuels. Native desert plants include a community of indigenous endosymbiotic fungi that are structural components with cells, tissues, cell cultures, and regenerated plants. These fungi regulate plant growth and development and contribute genes and natural products that enable plants to adapt to changing environments. A method developed for transferring these endophytes from cell cultures to non-host plants promises to be a revolutionary approach for the development of novel plant germplasm and has application in the field of plant biotechnology.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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