Drought has been a significant barrier to a successful crop. And it will not go away easily. Fortunately, a powerful and dynamic Duo of plants and microbes is here to help.
The microbes living on animals and plants form symbiotic relationships with them. The microbes and the plants or animals they inhabit play an essential role in making life sustainable on earth.
“We know that microbiomes, which are the communities of microorganisms in a given environment, are very important for the health of plants,” said Devin Coleman-Derr.
In recent research, a scientist at the University of California, Coleman-Derr, studies the impacts of drought on the Sorghum’s microbiome. Sorghum is a plant that farmers grow for animal feed. He presented his research at the recent virtual 2020 ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting.
Findings of the research:
The research found that the microbes living in the sorghum roots help plants to reduce stress. This robust duo of Sorghum and microbe cause successful growth of plants.
According to Coleman-Derr, plants’ hormones help them decide where to use their energy. Microbes modify this system to alter the decision-making process of plants.
Now the next question is why microbes are doing so?
Some fungi and bacteria inhabit certain plant species and consider roots their home. So, if microbes are helping plants to grow even in dry weather, they’re making their home better.
Generally, microbes affect every aspect of the plant’s life. For instance, microbes start their action even if the plant feels thirst.
Drought can modify the interaction between bacteria and their plant partners. Additional bacteria may come into action to help the plants endure the dry season. These bacteria can affect the plant hormone. It will promote root growth to help the plant absorb more water from the soil.
“We want to know if we can control this,” said Coleman-Derr. “Is there the possibility to manipulate the microbiome present to help sorghum cope with drought stress?”
Farmers and researchers are becoming increasingly concerned about the resilient nature of crops to environmental stress. This increasing resilient nature may also be due to global climate change. The current research will help develop crops that stay productive even in harsh environmental conditions.
The research team observed the dynamic nature of the microbiome. It is still unclear whether it is possible to control the sorghum microbiomes or not. However, numerous studies have demonstrated that certain bacteria present during drought stress have beneficial effects on plants.
Understanding plant microbiomes is vital for identifying crop productivity-related parameters. Luckily, plants make research on microbiomes easy.
In the next step, the researcher identifies whether it is possible to modify the microbiomes and use them to deal with drought or not.
Importance of research:
According to Coleman-Derr, this research will help determine whether microbes can be modified or not. As a result, we can work to develop high-yield crops by providing fewer inputs.
Who supported the research?
The United States Department of Energy and the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service supported this research. Moreover, the Soil Science Society of America, Crop Science Society of America, and American Society of Agronomy host the ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting in which this research was presented.