Yet comparatively little is known about which of these tiny organisms interact with plants or how they may affect plant performance and crop yields, according to Harsh Bais, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences at the University of Delaware.
With a three-year, $1.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Bais is teaming up with researchers from the University of California Davis and Delaware State University to uncover the diversity and potential impacts of microbes that literally lie at the roots of rice, one of the world's most important food crops.
More than half the world's population -- over 3 billion people -- depend on rice for survival, according to the International Rice Commission.
“What is the importance of the involvement of microbes in plants? It hasn't really been examined,” Bais notes. “We think that plants are doing everything on their own, but there is a whole world of microbes underground, associated with the roots of plants, that has yet to be analyzed.”
Scientists have long known the symbiotic relationship between legume plants such as beans and the bacteria known as rhizobia that colonize the plants' roots and enable the plants to convert nitrogen from the air into fertilizer.
More recently, in research reported last fall (http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2009/oct/bais101708.html), Bais and his colleagues showed that when the leaves of the small flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana were infected by a pathogen, the plant secreted an acid to recruit beneficial bacteria in the soil (Bacillus subtilis) to come to its defense.
The study caught the attention of plant biologist Venkatesan Sundaresan and evolutionary biologist Jonathan Eisen at the University of California Davis, who are Bais's co-investigators on the rice grant.
Venugopal Kalavacharla, assistant professor of agriculture and natural resources at Delaware State University, and Gurdev Khush, an agronomist and geneticist at the University of California Davis, also are collaborators.
During the coming months, Bais will be working to set up a hydroponic method for growing rice in laboratories at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. His colleagues in California will be growing rice in the field and supplying plant and soil samples to Bais's lab for microbial and genetic analysis.
A controlled experimental system will be established to dissect the impact of microbial associations on rice. Transcriptomic and metabolic profiling will reveal the genes actively being expressed by the plants in response to a variety of conditions.
The profiles will be analyzed for global changes in gene expression, as well as specific functional classes of genes that would reflect changes in nutrient availability, or establishment of plant immunity, for example, which can be confirmed by metabolic analysis and susceptibility to pathogens.
“A comprehensive understanding of the effects of root-associated microbes -- what we refer to as the microbiome -- on crop plants will enable the development of agricultural technologies that exploit the natural alliances among microbes and plants and may provide new avenues to increase yields beyond conventional plant genetics and breeding,” Bais says. “We are very excited to get started on this research.”
As part of the project, an undergraduate internship program in cutting-edge plant science will be developed for outstanding students from Delaware State University and Delaware Technical and Community College. An innovative “Field To Lab” program spanning agricultural sampling to bioinformatics will provide students with the opportunity to participate in field and laboratory studies of rice biology at both UD and the University of California Davis. The internship program is slated to begin next summer.
Tracey Bryant | Newswise Science News
Cascading use is also beneficial for wood
11.12.2017 | Technische Universität München
The future of crop engineering
08.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences
11.12.2017 | Information Technology