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Research Project: Control of Toxic Endophytic Fungi with Bacterial Endophytes and Regulation of Bacterial Metabolites for Novel Uses in Food Safety

Location: Toxicology & Mycotoxin Research

Title: Advancing the science of micobial symbiosis to support invasive species management: A case study on Phragmites in the Great Lakes

item Kowalski, K - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item Bacon, Charles
item Bickford, Wesley - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item Braun, Heather - Great Lakes Water Institute
item Clay, Keith - Indiana University
item Leduc-lapierre, Michele - Great Lakes Water Institute
item Lillard, Elizabeth - Great Lakes Water Institute
item Mccormick, Melissa - Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
item Nelson, Eric - Cornell University - New York
item Torres, Monica - Rutgers University
item White, Jr, James - Rutgers University
item Wilcox, Douglas - State University Of New York (SUNY)

Submitted to: Frontiers in Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/8/2015
Publication Date: 2/19/2015
Citation: Kowalski, K.P., Bacon, C.W., Bickford, W., Braun, H., Clay, K., Leduc-Lapierre, M., Lillard, E., Mccormick, M., Nelson, E., Torres, M., White, Jr, J., Wilcox, D.A. 2015. Advancing the science of micobial symbiosis to support invasive species management: A case study on Phragmites in the Great Lakes. Frontiers in Microbiology. 6:95.

Interpretive Summary: A growing body of literature supports microbial symbiosis as a foundational principle for the competitive success of invasive plant species. Further exploration of the relationships between invasive species and their associated microbiomes, as well as the interactions with the microbiomes of native species, can lead to key new insights into invasive success and potentially new and effective control approaches. A diverse group of researchers is needed to develop supporting science in a collaborative way that maximizes the collective impact of research efforts. The collective impact approach is a multi-phased process that has emerged to address complex, adaptive problems that are too complex to be solved by an individual organization. In this manuscript, we review microbial relationships with plants, outline steps necessary to develop invasive species control strategies that are based on those relationships, and show how scientific direction can be formed using a collective impact approach, with the invasive plant species Phragmites australis as a case study. The proposed science agenda, developed by the Collaborative for Microbial Symbiosis and Phragmites Management, contains a foundation of sequential steps and mutually-reinforcing tasks to guide the development of microbial-based control strategies for Phragmites and other invasive species. Just as the science of plant-microbial symbiosis can be transferred for use in other invasive species, so too can the model of collective impact be applied to other avenues of research and management.

Technical Abstract: Endophytic microorganisms are those that dwell within plants and confer some positive benefits include disease suppression, insect resistance, and environment stress relief as drought and temperature tolerances. As a result of these benefits, plants infected with microbial endophytes usually show enhance growth. Since all plants are naturally infected with endophytes their use in agricultural crop plants for biological improvements are anticipated. The authors of this paper were invited to assemble data and comments based on knowledge that would lead to the development of strategies to examine an invasive weed grass, Phragmites australis, commonly called common reed grass, with the intent to remove its endophytic flora with the hopes of reducing its rampant growth encroaching and filling in US waterways. There are American and European ecotypes of this perennial grass, but the American ecotype is not invasive. Both ecotypes are widely distributed in all states and Canada. The European ecotype can grow in excess of 20 feet high in one season, and multiplying with a similar width, thus the ecotype of concern. This European ecotype now is common to most US wetlands where it is threatening the existence of lakes and rivers, including the Great Lakes. What is proposed is a unique management strategy utilizing several experts in the areas of endophytic research, each contributing to specific tasks that will lead to management of this invasive species relative to it specific cadre of endophytic microorganisms.