Navigation Links
Scientists ID bacterial genes that improve plant growth
Date:5/13/2010

UPTON, NY You might think bacteria that "invade" trees are there to cause certain destruction. But like the helpful bacteria that live within our guts, some microbes help plants thrive. To find out what makes these microbe-plant interactions "tick," scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory decoded the genome of a plant-dwelling microbe they'd previously shown could increase plant growth by 40 percent. Their studies, described online in PLoS Genetics, identified a wide range of genes that help explain this symbiotic success story. The work could move the approach of using bacteria as growth-promoting agents one step closer to implementation for improved agriculture and biofuel production.

"To fuel and feed the planet for the future, we need new approaches," said Brookhaven scientist Safiyh Taghavi, the study's lead author. "Biofuels derived from plants are an attractive alternative energy source, but many biofuel feedstock crops are in direct competition with food crops for agricultural resources such as land, water, and fertilizers. Our research is looking for ways to improve the growth of biofuel feedstock plants on land that cannot be economically used for food production. What we learn might also be put to use to increase the productivity of food crops," she added.

The Brookhaven team has been studying a species of bacteria isolated from the roots of poplar trees. "Poplar is a model species for biofuel production, in part because of its ability to grow on marginal soils unsuitable for food crops," said scientist Daniel (Niels) van der Lelie, who leads the research program. Previous studies by the van der Lelie-Taghavi group have shown that the bacterium Enterobacter (sp. 638) increases poplar growth by as much as 40 percent.

In the current study through genome sequencing performed at DOE's Joint Genome Institute, manual genome annotation in collaboration with Brookhaven biologist Sebastien Monchy, and metabolic analyses performed at the University of South Carolina in collaboration with Brookhaven plant scientist Lee Newman the scientists identified an extended set of genes that help Enterobacter (sp. 638) establish itself in this niche. The studies also revealed remarkable interactions between the microbe and its host that help the plant survive and thrive.

Among the bacterial genes identified are ones that code for proteins that: help the microbe survive and compete with other species for resources in the soil; take up nutrients released by plant roots; and move toward, adhere to, and colonize poplar root tissues. The microbes also have genes that provide benefits for the plant, including: genes that may help confer drought resistance and the ability to coexist with toxic metals; genes that produce antimicrobial agents that protect plants from fungal and bacterial infections; and genes that produce plant-growth enhancing "phytohormones" and precursors that poplar cannot produce on its own.

"One of the most remarkable things about this association, which we confirmed with our metabolic assays, is that the production of these plant-growth-promoting phytohormones is directly dependent on the presence of plant-synthesized sugars, such as sucrose, in the growth medium. In addition, one metabolite (meso-2,3 butanediol) is known to elicit the induction of systemic tolerance to drought and induced systemic resistance against plant diseases," Taghavi said. So the plant makes sugar that helps the bacteria grow and make phytohormones and other compounds that help the plants grow better and healthier.

"Interestingly, the genes that allow the bacteria to metabolize sucrose and the genes that produce the phytohormones are located on a genomic island, suggesting they may have been acquired together via natural horizontal gene transfer," Taghavi said.

The scientists plan to continue their work by studying how these various genes are expressed during different stages of bacterial colonization of poplar. These detailed studies will further advance the scientists' understanding of the complex interactions, including the role of signaling compounds and other secondary metabolites that play a role in colonization and plant-growth promotion.

"These basic findings can eventually be translated into comprehensive strategies to exploit the use of these naturally occurring bacteria-plant relationships to improve plant establishment and biomass production. This approach can be applied to improve plant productivity for sustainable agriculture, bioenergy feedstock production on marginal lands, or to fight desertification of arid areas," van der Lelie said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
kmcnulty@bnl.gov
631-344-8350
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. Gladstone scientists uncover potential mechanism of memory loss in Alzheimers disease
2. Three Studies by Independent Scientists Highlighting Pressure Cycling Technology (PCT) to be Presented this Week at the British Mass Spectrometry Societys 29th Annual Meeting
3. Social Network for Scientists Marks Ten Years Online
4. Scientists synthesize memory in yeast cells
5. Scientists synthesize memory in yeast cells
6. University of Leicester scientists discover technique to help friendly bacteria
7. Scientists discover how cancer may take hold
8. Yale scientists make 2 giant steps in advancement of quantum computing
9. New Scientists Boost Disease-based Research at Boston Biomedical Research Institute
10. Scientists say sabercat bit like a pussycat
11. New Corporate Website Launched - Focus on Life Scientists, Flow Cytometrists, & Clinicians
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/11/2016)...  Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: NBIX ) today announced its ... --> --> For the ... $29.3 million, or $0.34 loss per share, compared to a net ... same period in 2014. For the year ended December 31, 2015, ... loss per share, as compared to a net loss of $60.5 ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... BioPharma Selling Solutions (Spectra) is a new Contract ... experience, expertise, operational delivery and customer focus to ... in concert with industry leading commercial experts, the ... needs of its clients by providing value-based creative ... non-personal promotion. --> ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... Florida , February 11, 2016 ... PositiveID Corporation ("PositiveID" or "Company") (OTCQB: PSID), a ... announced today that its Thermomedics subsidiary, which markets ... on its growth plan in January 2016, including ... distributors, increasing sequential monthly sales growth, and establishing ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... February 11, 2016 , ... Global Stem ... clinic in Quito, Ecuador. The new facility will provide advanced protocols and state-of-the-art ... around the world. , The new GSCG clinic is headed by four ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:2/2/2016)... This BCC Research report provides a ... the recent advances in high throughput ‘omic platforms ... forward. Includes forecast through 2019. Use ... opportunities that exist in the bioinformatic market. Analyze ... well as IT and bioinformatics service providers. Analyze ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... , Feb. 2, 2016   Parabon NanoLabs ... the U.S. Army Research Office and the Defense ... and sensitivity of the company,s Snapshot Kinship ... Mission and, more generally, defense-related DNA forensics.  Although ... capabilities (predicting appearance and ancestry from DNA evidence), ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... 2016  Today, the first day of American Heart ... develop a first of its kind workplace health solution ... In the first application of Watson ... ), and Welltok will create a new offering that ... analytics, delivered on Welltok,s health optimization platform. The effort ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):