The who’s who of plant roots

14th Oct 2012

In an article in the October issue of Nature Biotechnology, scientists at Rothamsted Research describe how the use of modern metagenomics has revealed the identities of the microorganisms in plants and soil to help plants thrive.

The team at Rothamsted Research give special mention to the work published recently in the journal Nature by two large, multinational groups who have made significant progress in this field through studying the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The work was led by Professor Jeff Dangl at the University of North Carolina, USA and Professor Paul Schulze-Lefert of the Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Germany.

In this article, the Rothamsted team discuss the background, methods and microorganisms that make up the endophytic and rhizosphere microbiomes* of the model plant.

Rothamsted scientist Dr Penny R Hirsch, describes how modern techniques are helping to complete our understanding of the important interactions between microorganisms in plants and soils. She said “The 19th century pioneers of microbiology identified the importance of soil bacteria and were aware of special relationships between roots, soils and microorganisms. But modern metagenomic methods allow us to explore these further and in much more detail so we can understand the exact nature of these important relationships”.

The article’s co-author Dr Tim Mauchline, added that “whilst we now have a more complete understanding of the microbial plant-soil interactions in Arabidopsis, full metagenomic sequencing will be required to have the complete picture. Ultimately we look forward to the application of these approaches to crop plants, so we can optimize plant health, nutrition and yields in sustainable agriculture.”


*Endophytic bacteria or fungi are those that live symbiotically with plants. The rhizosphere is the soil area where plant roots and soil microorganisms interact.

Who's who in the plant root microbiome? (doi:10.1038/nbt.2387)

Back to List »
Share |