Special Issue "The Hidden World within Plants"

A special issue of Microorganisms (ISSN 2076-2607). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Microbe Interactions".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Rachid Lahlali
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Plant Protection, Ecole Nationale d’Agriculture de Meknès, Km10, BP S/40, Meknès 50001, Morocco
Interests: plant–microbe interaction; crop protection; biological control; horticultural crops

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Plants offer an exceptional ecosystem for microorganisms, including members of phyla as diverse as viruses, bacteria, oomycetes, fungi, and eukaryotic protozoans, which intimately interact with plant cells and tissues with different levels of dependence ranging from mutualism to pathogenicity.  

Some of these microorganisms cause harm by employing diverse strategies to attack plants and impair plant growth and reproduction, others improve the plant growth through different physiological activities that may have profound effects on the growth and/or health of plants. On the other hand, beneficial microorganisms are able to improve the plant fitness through different physiological activities that may have a profound effect on their growth and/or health. They are also able to compete with pathogens for nutrients and niches or exert antagonism through antimicrobial compounds. These beneficial microbes are also able to interfere with pathogen signals or trigger the plant host immunity. 

Why do some microbes attack only certain plants? Is it because those plants are genetically less well-armed to repel pathogen attacks, or because the pathogens have the required arsenals to invade plant tissues? Why are some microbes pathogenic, and others not? How are beneficial microorganisms able to modulate the plant’s signaling to trigger the plant immunity?

These are some questions that will be targeted in this Issue. We encourage the contribution of high-quality and review articles related to different aspects of plant–microbe interactions.

Prof Dr. Philippe Jeandet
Prof. Dr. Essaid Ait Barka
Prof. Dr. Rachid Lahlali
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Microorganisms is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • beneficial microorganisms
  • pathogens
  • plant immunity
  • plant–microbe interaction
  • virulence factors

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
Fungal Communities in the Native New Zealand Medicinal Plant Pseudowintera colorata (Horopito) Are Determined by Plant Organ Type and Host Maturity with Key Members Promoting Plant Growth
Microorganisms 2021, 9(12), 2576; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9122576 - 13 Dec 2021
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Abstract
The plant Pseudowintera colorata is well known for its antimicrobial and medicinal properties and is endemic to New Zealand. Using PCR-Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), we investigated the factors influencing the composition of endophytic fungal communities in P. colorata from ten distinct sites [...] Read more.
The plant Pseudowintera colorata is well known for its antimicrobial and medicinal properties and is endemic to New Zealand. Using PCR-Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), we investigated the factors influencing the composition of endophytic fungal communities in P. colorata from ten distinct sites across New Zealand. Our results showed that plant organs of P. colorata influenced the diversity and richness of endophytic fungi (PERMANOVA, p < 0.05). In addition, plant maturity and its interactions revealed that endophytic fungal communities formed discrete clusters in leaves, stems, and roots of mature and immature P. colorata plants (PERMANOVA; p = 0.002, p = 0.001 and p = 0.039, respectively). For identifying isolates with biocontrol potential, dual culture tests were set up against four different phytopathogenic fungi. Isolates with high activity (zone of inhibition > 10 mm) were sequenced and identified as Trichoderma harzianum, Pezicula neosporulosa, Fusariumtricinctum, Metarhizium sp., and Chaetomium sp. Applying selected endophytic fungi (n = 7) as soil drenchers significantly increased the growth of P. colorata seedlings and produced more internodes. Seedling shoots treated with Trichoderma sp. PRY2BA21 were 2.2 × longer (8.36 cm) than the untreated controls (3.72 cm). Our results elucidate the main plant factors influencing fungal community composition and demonstrate a role for endophytic fungi in P. colorata growth and further demonstrate that medicinal plants are a rich source of endophytes with potential as biocontrol agents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Hidden World within Plants)
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Article
The Influence of Artificial Fusarium Infection on Oat Grain Quality
Microorganisms 2021, 9(10), 2108; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9102108 - 07 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 436
Abstract
Adverse environmental conditions, such as various biotic and abiotic stresses, are the primary reason for decreased crop productivity. Oat, as one of the world’s major crops, is an important cereal in human nutrition. The aim of this work was to analyze the effect [...] Read more.
Adverse environmental conditions, such as various biotic and abiotic stresses, are the primary reason for decreased crop productivity. Oat, as one of the world’s major crops, is an important cereal in human nutrition. The aim of this work was to analyze the effect of inoculation with two species of the genus Fusarium on the selected qualitative parameters of oat grain intended for the food industry. Artificial inoculation caused a statistically significant decrease in the content of starch, oleic, linoleic, and α-linolenic acids in oat grains compared to the control. Moreover, artificial inoculation had no statistically significant effect on the content of β-D-glucans, total dietary fiber, total lipids, palmitic, stearic, and cis-vaccenic acids. An increase in the content of polyunsaturated fatty acids in oat grains was observed after inoculation. The most important indicator of Fusarium infection was the presence of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol in the grain. The content of β-D-glucans, as a possible protective barrier in the cell wall, did not have a statistically significant effect on the inoculation manifestation in the grain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Hidden World within Plants)
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Article
Phytopythium vexans Associated with Apple and Pear Decline in the Saïss Plain of Morocco
Microorganisms 2021, 9(9), 1916; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9091916 - 09 Sep 2021
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Abstract
An extensive survey conducted in the Saïss plain of Morocco during the 2017–2018 growing season revealed that 35 out of 50 apple and pear orchards were infested with a pathogen that causes the decline disease. Morphological and phylogenetic tree analyses using the cox [...] Read more.
An extensive survey conducted in the Saïss plain of Morocco during the 2017–2018 growing season revealed that 35 out of 50 apple and pear orchards were infested with a pathogen that causes the decline disease. Morphological and phylogenetic tree analyses using the cox II gene allowed us to identify the pathogen as Phytopythium vexans. Interestingly, no Phytophthora and Pythium species were isolated. The occurrence and prevalence of the disease varied between locations; the most infested locations were Meknes (100%), Imouzzer (83%), and Sefrou (80%). To fulfill Koch’s postulate, a greenhouse pathogenicity test was performed on the stem and collar of one-year-old healthy seedlings of apple rootstock M115. Symptoms similar to those observed in the field were reproduced in less than 4 months post-inoculation with root rot disease severity ranging from 70 to 100%. The survey results evidenced that apple rootstocks, soil type, and irrigation procedure may contribute significantly to the occurrence of the disease. The disease was most prevalent in drip water irrigation and sandy-clay soil on wild apple rootstock. Accordingly, a rational drip advanced watering system and good sanitation practices could eliminate water stagnation and help prevent the onset of this disease. It was concluded that Pp. vexans occurrence may be strongly influenced by irrigation mode and type of soil. Therefore, the obtained findings of this study could help to better understand the recurrence of this disease and to develop a reliable integrated strategy for its management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Hidden World within Plants)
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Article
A Plant Endophytic Bacterium, Burkholderia seminalis Strain 869T2, Promotes Plant Growth in Arabidopsis, Pak Choi, Chinese Amaranth, Lettuces, and Other Vegetables
Microorganisms 2021, 9(8), 1703; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9081703 - 10 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1008
Abstract
Plant endophytic bacteria live inside host plants, can be isolated from surface-sterilized plant tissues, and are non-pathogenic. These bacteria can assist host plants in obtaining more nutrients and can improve plant growth via multiple mechanisms. Certain Gram-negative Burkholderia species, including rhizobacteria, bioremediators, and [...] Read more.
Plant endophytic bacteria live inside host plants, can be isolated from surface-sterilized plant tissues, and are non-pathogenic. These bacteria can assist host plants in obtaining more nutrients and can improve plant growth via multiple mechanisms. Certain Gram-negative Burkholderia species, including rhizobacteria, bioremediators, and biocontrol strains, have been recognized for their plant-growth-promoting abilities, while other isolates have been identified as opportunistic plant or human pathogens. In this study, we observed the auxin production, siderophore synthesis, and phosphate solubilization abilities of B. seminalis strain 869T2. Our results demonstrated that strain 869T2 promoted growth in Arabidopsis, ching chiang pak choi, pak choi, loose-leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and Chinese amaranth. Leafy vegetables inoculated with strain 869T2 were larger, heavier, and had more and larger leaves and longer and heavier roots than mock-inoculated plants. Furthermore, inoculations of strain 869T2 into hot pepper caused increased flower and fruit production, and a higher percentage of fruits turned red. Inoculation of strain 869T2 into okra plants resulted in earlier flowering and increased fruit weight. In conclusion, the plant endophytic bacterium Burkholderia seminalis 869T2 exerted positive effects on growth and production in several plant species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Hidden World within Plants)
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Article
Examining the Effects of the Nitrogen Environment on Growth and N2-Fixation of Endophytic Herbaspirillum seropedicae in Maize Seedlings by Applying 11C Radiotracing
Microorganisms 2021, 9(8), 1582; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9081582 - 25 Jul 2021
Viewed by 648
Abstract
Herbaspirillum seropedicae, as an endophyte and prolific root colonizer of numerous cereal crops, occupies an important ecological niche in agriculture because of its ability to promote plant growth and potentially improve crop yield. More importantly, there exists the untapped potential to harness its [...] Read more.
Herbaspirillum seropedicae, as an endophyte and prolific root colonizer of numerous cereal crops, occupies an important ecological niche in agriculture because of its ability to promote plant growth and potentially improve crop yield. More importantly, there exists the untapped potential to harness its ability, as a diazotroph, to fix atmospheric N2 as an alternative nitrogen resource to synthetic fertilizers. While mechanisms for plant growth promotion remain controversial, especially in cereal crops, one irrefutable fact is these microorganisms rely heavily on plant-borne carbon as their main energy source in support of their own growth and biological functions. Biological nitrogen fixation (BNF), a microbial function that is reliant on nitrogenase enzyme activity, is extremely sensitive to the localized nitrogen environment of the microorganism. However, whether internal root colonization can serve to shield the microorganisms and de-sensitize nitrogenase activity to changes in the soil nitrogen status remains unanswered. We used RAM10, a GFP-reporting strain of H. seropedicae, and administered radioactive 11CO2 tracer to intact 3-week-old maize leaves and followed 11C-photosynthates to sites within intact roots where actively fluorescing microbial colonies assimilated the tracer. We examined the influence of administering either 1 mM or 10 mM nitrate during plant growth on microbial demands for plant-borne 11C. Nitrogenase activity was also examined under the same growth conditions using the acetylene reduction assay. We found that plant growth under low nitrate resulted in higher nitrogenase activity as well as higher microbial demands for plant-borne carbon than plant growth under high nitrate. However, carbon availability was significantly diminished under low nitrate growth due to reduced host CO2 fixation and reduced allocation of carbon resources to the roots. This response of the host caused significant inhibition of microbial growth. In summary, internal root colonization did little to shield these endophytic microorganisms from the nitrogen environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Hidden World within Plants)
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Article
Beneficial Microorganisms to Control the Gray Mold of Grapevine: From Screening to Mechanisms
Microorganisms 2021, 9(7), 1386; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9071386 - 25 Jun 2021
Viewed by 982
Abstract
In many vineyards around the world, Botrytis cinerea (B. cinerea) causes one of the most serious diseases of aerial grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) organs. The control of the disease relies mainly on the use of chemical products whose use [...] Read more.
In many vineyards around the world, Botrytis cinerea (B. cinerea) causes one of the most serious diseases of aerial grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) organs. The control of the disease relies mainly on the use of chemical products whose use is increasingly challenged. To develop new sustainable methods to better resist B. cinerea, beneficial bacteria were isolated from vineyard soil. Once screened based on their antimicrobial effect through an in vivo test, two bacterial strains, S3 and S6, were able to restrict the development of the pathogen and significantly reduced the Botrytis-related necrosis. The photosynthesis analysis showed that the antagonistic strains also prevent grapevines from considerable irreversible PSII photo-inhibition four days after infection with B. cinerea. The 16S rRNA gene sequences of S3 exhibited 100% similarity to Bacillus velezensis, whereas S6 had 98.5% similarity to Enterobacter cloacae. On the other hand, the in silico analysis of the whole genome of isolated strains has revealed the presence of “biocontrol-related” genes supporting their plant growth and biocontrol activities. The study concludes that those bacteria could be potentially useful as a suitable biocontrol agent in harvested grapevine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Hidden World within Plants)
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Review

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Review
Citrus Stubborn Disease: Current Insights on an Enigmatic Problem Prevailing in Citrus Orchards
Microorganisms 2022, 10(1), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms10010183 - 14 Jan 2022
Viewed by 267
Abstract
Citrus stubborn was initially observed in California in 1915 and was later proven as a graft-transmissible disease in 1942. In the field, diseased citrus trees have compressed and stunted appearances, and yield poor-quality fruits with little market value. The disease is caused by [...] Read more.
Citrus stubborn was initially observed in California in 1915 and was later proven as a graft-transmissible disease in 1942. In the field, diseased citrus trees have compressed and stunted appearances, and yield poor-quality fruits with little market value. The disease is caused by Spiroplasma citri, a phloem-restricted pathogenic mollicute, which belongs to the Spiroplasmataceae family (Mollicutes). S. citri has the largest genome of any Mollicutes investigated, with a genome size of roughly 1780 Kbp. It is a helical, motile mollicute that lacks a cell wall and peptidoglycan. Several quick and sensitive molecular-based and immuno-enzymatic pathogen detection technologies are available. Infected weeds are the primary source of transmission to citrus, with only a minor percentage of transmission from infected citrus to citrus. Several phloem-feeding leafhopper species (Cicadellidae, Hemiptera) support the natural spread of S. citri in a persistent, propagative manner. S. citri-free buds are used in new orchard plantings and bud certification, and indexing initiatives have been launched. Further, a quarantine system for newly introduced types has been implemented to limit citrus stubborn disease (CSD). The present state of knowledge about CSD around the world is summarized in this overview, where recent advances in S. citri detection, characterization, control and eradication were highlighted to prevent or limit disease spread through the adoption of best practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Hidden World within Plants)
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