Plant-microbe teamwork: beating all odds

  • Recent research gives insight into the coordinated microbial community flourishment and prevention of vital nutrients loss by barrier formation in plant cells.

     By- Gargi

    Image credit: Jose Luis

    Plant-microbe interaction has been a widely explored area in the last few years. A new study performed on model plant Arabidopsis thaliana reveals a reciprocal relationship between the plant and microbial communities that colonize the plant roots.


    The plant fight mechanism against stress is to create a barrier that prevents the diffusion of nutrients and minerals back into the environment. This survival mechanism influences the microbial population to flourish and in turn these microbes aid in the barrier formation mechanism of plants to prevent diffusion of essential compounds. This research has been performed by a group of plant scientists at the University of Nottingham, UK, and recently published in the journal Science.


    The researchers said in their article,” Plant roots and animal guts have evolved specialized cell layers to control mineral nutrient homeostasis that must tolerate the resident microbiota while keeping homeostatic integrity. Whether and how the root diffusion barriers in the endodermis, critical for the mineral nutrient balance of plants, coordinates with the microbiota, is unknown.” 


    Similar to animal guts are plant transport systems, specialized cell check-points come to rescue the organism in the times of dire needs, that is during biotic and abiotic stresses. In animals, these gate-keepers are epithelial cells whereas in plants these are Casparian strips and suberin walls.  This root diffusion barrier formed in plants prevents the loss of important minerals and nutrients that helps in plant growth and reproduction. 


    ‘To explore the interplay between the root diffusion barriers and the plant microbiome, we analyzed the microbiota’s ability to influence the deposition of root diffusion barriers in the endodermis. We determined how the deposition of the Casparian strips and suberin synthesis changes in response to a collection of hundreds of different bacterial strains.  Indeed, we noticed that some bacteria have the capacity to induce changes in the endodermal lignification independently of the appearance of the first root hair, a marker of root development.  These results indicate that members of the root microbiome have the capacity to modify Casparian strip formation.’ said a scientist.

    Read the full article here: