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Plant perfumes woo beneficial bugs
Date:4/30/2012

e available and help by competing against harmful bacteria around the root system."

The soil around a plant is awash with chemicals exuded by its roots. This makes it rich in nutrients but also potentially more toxic for microorganisms. The roots of young maize plants exude large quantities of chemicals called benzoxazinoids or 'BXs' which are known to play a role in helping the plant defend itself against pests above the ground in its stem and leaves. Dr Neal and Dr Ton found that a number of bacterial genes that are associated with movement responded to one of these BX chemicals, encouraging Psudomonas putida to migrate towards the plant. They also found that the presence of Psudomonas putida accelerated the breakdown of BX molecules suggesting that the bacteria have evolved the ability to detoxify the root environment, perhaps even using BX molecules as an energy source.

Dr Jurriaan Ton from the University of Sheffield co-led the research. He added "Our study has opened up exciting new opportunities for follow-up research. One interesting lead came from our analysis of the bacterial genes that were switched on in the presence of root produced BX chemicals. This analysis suggested that the BX chemicals not only recruit the bacteria to the root surface, but they also activate processes in these bacteria that can help to suppress soil-borne diseases. This is really exciting as it would mean that the plant is not only recruiting beneficial microbes but also regulating how they behave."

He added "The next important step is to obtain a molecular blueprint of the microbial communities that are shaped by these root chemicals, and to investigate what beneficial impacts these microbes have on plant growth, plant health and soil quality."

Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, said "Sustainability must be at the heart of our efforts to help provide the world with enough nutritious food. Only by broadening our focus beyond individ
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Contact: Mike Davies
mike.davies@bbsrc.ac.uk
01-793-414-694
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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