Beneficial bacteria protect crops from heat stress
Today’s Video of the Day from KAUST reveals how bacteria can help protect crops from heat and drought.
The researchers tested the power of the beneficial bacteria SA187 that lives in the roots of tough, resilient desert shrubs.
The team coated wheat seeds with the bacteria and then planted them in the lab, along with seeds that were left untreated.
When exposed to extreme heat, the untreated wheat plants suffered too much to survive. Meanwhile, the wheat plants that had been treated with SA187 were not damaged and continued to thrive.
Genetic analysis revealed that the bacteria produce metabolites that are converted into the hormone ethylene, which primes the plant’s heat-resistance genes for action.
“Essentially, the bacteria teach the plant how to use its own defense system,” explained said study co-author Kirti Shekhawat.
Thousands of other bacteria have the potential to protect plants against threats ranging from drought to fungi, and the team is already testing some of these microbes on vegetables and other crops.
“We have just scratched the surface of this hidden world of soil that we once dismissed as dead matter,” said study lead author Heribert Hirt. “Beneficial bacteria could help transform an unsustainable agricultural system into a truly ecological one.”
Video Credit: © 2021 KAUST; Anastasia Serin
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