Are psychobiotics the new anti-depressants? A new review article links probiotics to changes in mood and mental health, suggesting these "good" bacteria might have potential as a treatment for depression and other psychiatric maladies.
Beneficial associations between plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi play a major role in terrestrial environments and in the sustainability of agroecosystems. Proteins, microRNAs, and small molecules have been identified in model angiosperms as required for the establishment of arbuscular mycorrhizal associations and define a symbiotic ‘toolkit’ used for other interactions such as the rhizobia–legume symbiosis. Based on recent studies, we propose an evolutionary framework for this toolkit. Some components appeared recently in angiosperms, whereas others are highly conserved even in land plants unable to form arbuscular mycorrhizal associations. The exciting finding that some components pre-date the appearance of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi suggests the existence of unknown roles for this toolkit and even the possibility of symbiotic associations in charophyte green algae.
Farmers have long tried to improve the chemical and physical condition of their soils, seeking to make more nutrients available to their plants, to retain more moisture in the soil, and to ease the growth of plant roots. But they have typically ignored the role of the teeming diversity of fungi and bacteria in the soil.
Now, however, soil biologists are beginning to understand the significance of the interactions at work in the microbiome surrounding plants' root systems. Recent research has shown, for example, that major food crops can be made dramatically more stress tolerant by transplanting into them various microbiota, such as fungi or bacteria, that colonize other species. There is a clear parallel with medical science, where the myriad microorganisms on our skin and in our gut are now recognized as crucial mediators of a whole range of bodily responses — an understanding that has profoundly changed the way we think about human health.
In agriculture, the drive to eliminate pathogens has encouraged a bazooka approach to the soil microbiome with the widespread use of biocides and fungicides. But the role of the microbiome is too varied and complex for this to be sustainable. “We are standing on a treasure of beneficial microbes, each of them contributing a little bit to plant yield,” says Alexandre Jousset, a microbiologist at the University of Göttingen, Germany. “Understanding how these diverse communities help plants to resist adverse situations will open new doors to developing sustainable practices, calling up microbial services that are sleeping in virtually any soil.”
Microbial communities play a pivotal role in the functioning of plants by influencing their physiology and development. While many members of the rhizosphere microbiome are beneficial to plant growth, also plant pathogenic microorganisms colonize the rhizosphere striving to break through the protective microbial shield and to overcome the innate plant defense mechanisms in order to cause disease. A third group of microorganisms that can be found in the rhizosphere are the true and opportunistic human pathogenic bacteria, which can be carried on or in plant tissue and may cause disease when introduced into debilitated humans. Although the importance of the rhizosphere microbiome for plant growth has been widely recognized, for the vast majority of rhizosphere microorganisms no knowledge exists. To enhance plant growth and health, it is essential to know which microorganism is present in the rhizosphere microbiome and what they are doing. Here, we review the main functions of rhizosphere microorganisms and how they impact on health and disease. We discuss the mechanisms involved in the multitrophic interactions and chemical dialogues that occur in the rhizosphere. Finally, we highlight several strategies to redirect or reshape the rhizosphere microbiome in favor of microorganisms that are beneficial to plant growth and health.
Forests contribute a significant portion of the land carbon sink, but their ability to sequester CO2may be constrained by nitrogen1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, a major plant-limiting nutrient. Many tropical forests possess tree species capable of fixing atmospheric dinitrogen (N2)7, but it is unclear whether this functional group can supply the nitrogen needed as forests recover from disturbance or previous land use1, or expand in response to rising CO2 (refs 6, 8). Here we identify a powerful feedback mechanism in which N2 fixation can overcome ecosystem-scale deficiencies in nitrogen that emerge during periods of rapid biomass accumulation in tropical forests. Over a 300-year chronosequence in Panama, N2-fixing tree species accumulated carbon up to nine times faster per individual than their non-fixing neighbours (greatest difference in youngest forests), and showed species-specific differences in the amount and timing of fixation. As a result of fast growth and high fixation, fixers provided a large fraction of the nitrogen needed to support net forest growth (50,000 kg carbon per hectare) in the first 12 years. A key element of ecosystem functional diversity was ensured by the presence of different N2-fixing tree species across the entire forest age sequence. These findings show that symbiotic N2 fixation can have a central role in nitrogen cycling during tropical forest stand development, with potentially important implications for the ability of tropical forests to sequester CO2.
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R. irregularis is an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus which forms symbiotic relationship with plant roots in important crop plants (Soybean, Rice, Maize, Poplar trees). The genome was sequenced through the JGI Mycorrhizal ...
In the Internet era, communicating with friends and colleagues via social networks constitutes a significant proportion of our daily activities. Similarly animals and plants also interact with many organisms, some of which are pathogens and do no good for the plant, while others are beneficial symbionts. Almost all plants indulge in developing social networks with microbes, in particular with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and emerging evidence indicates that most employ an ancient and widespread central ‘social media’ pathway made of signaling molecules within what is called the SYM pathway. Some plants, like legumes, are particularly active recruiters of friends, as they have established very sophisticated and beneficial interactions with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, also via the SYM pathway. Interestingly, many members of the Brassicaceae, including the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, seem to have removed themselves from this ancestral social network and lost the ability to engage in mutually favorable interactions with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Despite these generalizations, recent studies exploring the root microbiota of A. thalianahave found that in natural conditions, A. thaliana roots are colonized by many different bacterial species and therefore may be using different and probably more recent ‘social media’ for these interactions. In general, recent advances in the understanding of such molecular machinery required for plant–symbiont associations are being obtained using high throughput genomic profiling strategies including transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics. The crucial mechanistic understanding that such data reveal may provide the infrastructure for future efforts to genetically manipulate crop social networks for our own food and fiber needs.
The root microbiome is composed of an incredibly diverse microbial community that provides services to the plant. A major question in rhizosphere research is how species in root microbiome communities interact with each other and their host. In the nutrient mutualism between host plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), competition often leads to certain species dominating host colonization, with the outcome being dependent on environmental conditions. In the past, it has been difficult to quantify the abundance of closely related species and track competitive interactions in different regions of the rhizosphere, specifically within and outside the host. Here, we used an artificial root system (in vitro root organ cultures) to investigate intraradical (within the root) and extraradical (outside the root) competitive interactions between two closely related AMF species, Rhizophagus irregularis and Glomus aggregatum, under different phosphorus availabilities. We found that competitive interactions between AMF species reduced overall fungal abundance. R. irregularis was consistently the most abundant symbiont for both intraradical and extraradical colonization. Competition was the most intense for resources within the host, where both species negatively affected each other's abundance. We found the investment ratio (i.e. extraradical abundance/intraradical abundance) shifted for both species depending on whether competitors were present or not. Phosphorus availability did not change the outcome of these interactions. Our results suggest that studies on competitive interactions should focus on intraradical colonization dynamics and consider how changes in investment ratio are mediated by fungal species interactions.
SummaryUnderstanding how biotic interactions can improve plant tolerance to drought is a challenging prospect for agronomy and ecology. Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) are promising candidates but the phenotypic changes induced by PGPR under drought remain to be elucidated.We investigated the effects of Phyllobacterium brassicacearum STM196 strain, a PGPR isolated from the rhizosphere of oilseed rape, on two accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana with contrasting flowering time. We measured multiple morphophysiological traits related to plant growth and development in order to quantify the added value of the bacteria to drought-response strategies of Arabidopsis in soil conditions.A delay in reproductive development induced by the bacteria resulted in a gain of biomass that was independent of the accession and the watering regime. Coordinated changes in transpiration, ABA content, photosynthesis and development resulted in higher water-use efficiency and a better tolerance to drought of inoculated plants.Our findings give new insights into the ecophysiological bases by which PGPR can confer stress tolerance to plants. Rhizobacteria-induced delay in flowering time could represent a valuable strategy for increasing biomass yield, whereas rhizobacteria-induced improvement of water use is of particular interest in multiple scenarios of water availability.
Rhizobia, the nitrogen-fixing bacterial symbionts of legumes, represent an agricultural application of primary relevance and a model of plant–microbe molecular dialogues. We recently described rhizobium proteome alterations induced by plant flavonoids using iTRAQ. Herein, we further extend that experimentation, proving that the transient elevation in cytosolic calcium is a key signaling event necessary for the expression of the nodulation (nod) genes. Ca2+ involvement in nodulation is a novel issue that we recently flagged with genetic and physiological approaches and that hereby we demonstrate also by proteomics. Exploiting the multiple combinations of 4-plex iTRAQ, we analyzed Rhizobium leguminosarum cultures grown with or without the nod gene-inducing plant flavonoid naringenin and in the presence or absence of the extracellular Ca2+ chelator EGTA. We quantified over a thousand proteins, 189 of which significantly altered upon naringenin and/or EGTA stimulation. The expression of NodA, highly induced by naringenin, is strongly reduced when calcium availability is limited by EGTA. This confirms, from a proteomic perspective, that a Ca2+ influx is a necessary early step in flavonoid-mediated legume nodulation by rhizobia. We also observed other proteins affected by the different treatments, whose identities and roles in nodulation and rhizobium physiology are likewise discussed.
J. Proteome Res., (2013). Publication Date (Web): September 16,