Bacteria aid Plant Roots to Grow in Desert Conditions

Apricot Tree Fall Leaves - BSN

(Best Syndication News) - Researchers found that the soil’s microbial communities can aid plant growth even more so during drought conditions. The roots work together differently with the soil microbes to accommodate for a lack of water. Daniele Daffonchio and colleagues from the University of Milan, Italy, published their findings in the October 31, 2012 open access journal PLOS One.

The symbiotic relationship between plants and soil microbial communities are important for growth. The researchers wanted to find out what happens to the bacteria and plant roots when there is a lack of water.

To investigate, the researchers grew pepper plants with a reduced water supply. They then looked to see what kinds of bacterial species formed around the plant's roots. The microbial communities of bacteria that were able to help the plant accomplish photosynthesis increased when the plant was presented with drought stress. The biomass production improved in the plant by up to 40 percent in the reduced water situation.

Daffonchio said, "Our findings highlight that fully functional plants cannot be considered single organisms anymore, but meta-organisms of the plant and its microbiome, which promotes essential functions like resistance to water stress. The promotion of drought resistance by bacteria can have important applications, for instance, in retaining high yields from plants even in the presence of lower irrigation."

By: Julie Marcus
Science and Technology Writer

Citation: Marasco R, Rolli E, Ettoumi B, Vigani G, Mapelli F, et al. (2012) A Drought Resistance-Promoting Microbiome Is Selected by Root System under Desert Farming. PLOS ONE 7(10): e48479. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048479 http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0048479

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