Just like humans, genetic network keeps plants healthy
New research has revealed that, just like humans, plants have evolved a genetic network to regulate microbiome and maintain health.
Plants grow with various microbes such as bacteria, fungi and oomycetes (collectively called microbiome). Some are beneficial while some are harmful, but the roles of most other microbes to plants remains unknown.
Scientists from China and the US found that plants are smart enough to utilize a genetic network to maintain microbiome balance above ground, which ensures plant health. Like human beings, whose health conditions are linked to the gut microbiome, a disturbance in plant microbiome balance results in illness.
Experimenting on rock cress, researchers found that a lack of regulating genes can result in the excessive proliferation of bacteria in leaves and, consequently, the leaves turn yellow or show disease-like spots.
The research implies that it is possible to modify genes of plants to improve their ability to better survive adverse weather as well as increase crop yields.
The research was undertaken by plant scientists from Michigan State University (US), the Center for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Shanghai, China) and the University of Florida (US).
It has been published online in the world-leading scientific journal Nature.