Abstract: Rhodococcuserythropolis is an environmental Gram-positive Actinobacterium with a versatile metabolism involved in various bioconversions and degradations. Rhodococci are best known for their great potential in numerous decontamination and industrial processes. However, they can also prevent plant disease by disrupting quorum sensing-based communication of Gram-negative soft-rot bacteria, by degrading N-acyl-homoserine lactone signaling molecules. Such biocontrol activity results partly from the action of the γ-lactone catabolic pathway. This pathway is responsible for cleaving the lactone bond of a wide range of compounds comprising a γ-butyrolactone ring coupled to an alkyl or acyl chain. The aliphatic products of this hydrolysis are then activated and enter fatty acid metabolism. This short pathway is controlled by the presence of the γ-lactone, presumably sensed by a TetR-like transcriptional regulator, rather than the presence of the pathogen or the plant-host in the environment of the Rhodococci. Both the density and biocontrol activity ofR.erythropolis may be boosted in crop systems. Treatment with a cheap γ-lactone stimulator, for example, the food flavoring γ-caprolactone, induces the activity in the biocontrol agent, R. erythropolis, of the pathway degrading signaling molecules; such treatments thus promote plant protection.
Abstract: Climate change increases stress levels for crops and affects the economic and environmental aspects of agricultural management systems. The application of stress tolerance-mediating microorganisms is an auspicious strategy for improving crop protection, and as such, we developed a direct selection strategy to obtain cultivable microorganisms from promising bioresources using the bait plants, maize, oilseed rape, sorghum and sugar beet. Alpine mosses, lichens and primrose were selected as bioresources, as each is adapted to adverse environmental conditions. A 10% crop-specific selection was found for bait plant rhizosphere communities using cultivation-independent fingerprints, and their potential role as stress protecting agents (SPA) was evaluated following the cultivation of captured bacteria. In addition to assays identifying phytopathogen antagonism and plant growth promotion capacities, our evaluation included those that test the ability to allocate nutrients. Moreover, we developed new assays to measure tolerance in diverse stress conditions. A score scheme was applied to select SPAs with desired properties, and three Pseudomonas specieswith pronounced antagonistic activity that showed elevated tolerance to desiccation and an improved seed germination rate were subsequently chosen. Screening for environmentally-conditioned and host-adapted microorganisms provides a novel tool for target-oriented exploitation of microbial bioresources for the management of ecofriendly crops facing biotic and abiotic stresses.
Abstract: In recent decades, a greater knowledge of chitin chemistry, and the increased availability of chitin-containing waste materials from the seafood industry, have led to the testing and development of chitin-containing products for a wide variety of applications in the agriculture industry. A number of modes of action have been proposed for how chitin and its derivatives can improve crop yield. In addition to direct effects on plant nutrition and plant growth stimulation, chitin-derived products have also been shown to be toxic to plant pests and pathogens, induce plant defenses and stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial microbes. A repeating theme of the published studies is that chitin-based treatments augment and amplify the action of beneficial chitinolytic microbes. This article reviews the evidence for claims that chitin-based products can improve crop yields and the current understanding of the modes of action with a focus on plant-microbe interactions.
Abstract: Water stress is a serious concern in the citrus industry due to its effect on citrus quality and yield. A sensor system for early detection will allow rapid implementation of control measures and management decisions to reduce any adverse effects. Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) presents a potentially suitable technique for early stress detection through elemental profile analysis of the citrus leaves. It is anticipated that the physiological change in plants due to stress will induce changes in the element profile. The major goal of this study was to evaluate the performance of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy as a method of water stress detection for potential use in the citrus industry. In this work, two levels of water stress were applied to Cleopatra (Cleo) mandarin, Carrizo citrange, and Shekwasha seedlings under the controlled conditions of a greenhouse. Leaves collected from the healthy and stressed plants were analyzed using LIBS, as well as with a spectroradiometer (visible-near infrared spectroscopy) and a thermal camera (thermal infrared). Statistical classification of healthy and stressed samples revealed that the LIBS data could be classified with an overall accuracy of 80% using a Naïve-Bayes and bagged decision tree-based classifiers. These accuracies were lower than the classification accuracies acquired from visible-near infrared spectra. An accuracy of 93% and higher was achieved using a bagged decision tree with visible-near infrared spectral reflectance data.
Abstract: Microorganisms are involved in a network of interactions with plants, promoting growth and acting as biocontrol agents against diseases. In this work, we studied native microorganisms associated with quinoa plants (Chenopodium quinoa) and the application of these organisms to the organic production of quinoa in the Andean Altiplano. Quinoa is a non-cereal grain native to the Andean highlands and is highly nutritious and gluten-free. As such, the international demand for quinoa has increased substantially in recent years. We isolated native endophytic bacteria that are able to fix nitrogen, solubilize phosphate and synthesize a phytohormone and native strains of Trichoderma, a fungus typically used for increasing plant growth and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Greenhouse assays and field trials allowed for selecting promissory bacterial isolates, mostly belonging to Bacillus and Paenibacillus genera, that increased plant length, panicle weight and grain yield. Selected microbial isolates were large-scale multiplied in simple and inexpensive culture media and then formulated to obtain bioproducts that were distributed among local farmers. Thus, we developed a technology for the exploitation of beneficial microbes, offering promising and environmentally friendly strategies for the organic production of quinoa without perturbing the native microbial diversity of Andean soils and making them more resilient to the adverse effects of climatic change and the over-production of quinoa.
Abstract: Currently, there is little knowledge of the establishment of repeatedly applied biological control agents (BCAs) in the phyllosphere of plants and, in particular, their interactions with the resident microbiome. Under field conditions, the BCA Aureobasidium pullulans was applied as a model organism to organically grown strawberries during two subsequent years (2011, 2012), either as single strain treatment or with the co-application of the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. Fungal and bacterial communities of strawberry leaves were investigated by means of plate counts and 454 pyrosequencing. The establishment of the introduced A. pullulans strains considerably differed between the two years, presumably due to distinct environmental conditions. Short-term and long-term effects of BCA applications on the composition and diversity of fungal communities could be observed as a result of successful establishment of A. pullulans, in 2011, showing, for instance, reduced diversity of fungal communities by competitive displacement shortly after BCA introduction. Due to considerable dynamics in untreated resident microbial communities in the phyllosphere in general, however, we suggest that even the effects caused by the applied BCA preparations in 2011 are negligible under practical conditions.