When plants are subjected to drought conditions they can create ‘alliances’ with microbial communities in the soil that increase their ability to live and grow in those conditions, new research has found.
It’s been known for a long time that the symbiotic relationships between plants and microbes in the soil are crucial to the health of the plants. But the new research has shown that these microbial communities change in different environmental conditions, to the benefit of the plant. There has previously been barely any research done on how a lack of water affects symbiotic microbial communities.
For the new research, “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 Daniele Daffonchio, from the University of Milan. “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. ”
The research was just published in the open access journal PLOS.
Source and Image: PLOS