Desert farming forms bacterial communities that promote drought resistance

October 31, 2012

When there is little water available for plants to grow, their roots form alliances with soil microbes that can promote plant growth even under water-limiting conditions, according to research published Oct. 31 by Daniele Daffonchio and colleagues from the University of Milan, Italy in the open access journal PLOS ONE.

between plants and soil microbial communities are critical to the health of plants. Though the effects of drought on plants are well-known, little is known about how lack of water affects the bacteria around plant roots.

In this study, the researchers grew pepper plants under conditions of limited water and analyzed the bacterial species around the roots of the plants. They found that drought stress enriched the microbial communities with bacteria capable of increasing plant photosynthesis and biomass production by up to 40% under limited water conditions.

According to Daffonchio, ""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 by bacteria can have important applications, for instance, in retaining high yields from plants even in the presence of lower irrigation. "

Explore further: New technique enables assessment of drought performance

More information: 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

Related Stories

New technique enables assessment of drought performance

November 12, 2008

Measurement of chlorophyll fluorescence is an effective way of determining how well plants can cope with low-water conditions. The technique described in the open access journal Plant Methods, published by BioMed Central, ...

Soil bacteria plant bodyguards against fungal infections

May 12, 2011

With up to 33,000 ‘taxa’, plant roots are home to an unprecedentedly large diversity of bacteria. Some of these bacteria can function as a type of bodyguard for plants, protecting them against infection by harmful ...

Want bigger plants? Get to the root of the matter

June 30, 2012

Plant scientists have imaged and analyzed, for the first time, how a potted plant's roots are arranged in the soil as the plant develops. In this study, to be presented at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting on 30th ...

Recommended for you

More reasons to eat your broccoli

June 22, 2016

Love it or hate it, broccoli is touted as a superfood, offering an array of health benefits. And it's about to get even more super.

Monkeys get more selective with age

June 23, 2016

As people get older, they become choosier about how they spend their time and with whom they spend it. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on June 23 find, based on a series of experimental ...

Team discovers new origins for farmed rice

June 22, 2016

Chew on this: rice farming is a far older practice than we knew. In fact, the oldest evidence of domesticated rice has just been found in China, and it's about 9,000 years old.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.