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Research Project: Discovery of Plant Genetic Mechanisms Controlling Microbial Recruitment to the Root Microbiome

Location: Plant Gene Expression Center

Title: Causes and consequences of a conserved bacterial root microbiome resposnse to drought stress

item XU, LING - University Of California
item Coleman-Derr, Devin

Submitted to: Current Opinion in Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2019
Publication Date: 6/30/2019
Citation: Xu, L., Coleman-Derr, D.A. 2019. Causes and consequences of a conserved bacterial root microbiome resposnse to drought stress. Current Opinion in Microbiology. 49:1-6.

Interpretive Summary: The primary purpose of the plant root is the uptake of water and nutrients from the surrounding soil. When water becomes scarce, the root system must adapt in order for the plant to survive. This adaptation can involve many changes, including altered development, shifts in metabolism, and, we know now, a restructuring of the root microbiome. As plant fitness is interconnected with the composition and activity of the phytobiome we can expect that the strong and conserved restructuring of the root microbiome under drought stress may have profound consequences for host health. For this reason, an improved understanding of the causes and consequences of the drought-induced shifts in the root associated microbial landscape has the potential to help guide and inform efforts to improve crop fitness in the face of increasing incidence and severity of drought stress that faces agroecosystems in the coming century.

Technical Abstract: Plant-associated microbial communities contribute to host fitness, and perturbations in the plant microbiome can have a major impact on plant health. Drought has recently been shown to lead to enrichment of monoderm bacteria within the roots of many plant species across many environments. However, the underlying causes of this shift, and the consequences for plant fitness, remain largely unexplored. We present the hypotheses that drought-induced shifts in plant metabolism may be responsible for the observed monoderm enrichment, and that increased monoderm abundance may promote increased drought tolerance in the host. Finally, we discuss how these recent discoveries may inform ongoing efforts to use microbially mediated strategies to improve crop productivity.