Calling from distance: attraction of soil bacteria by plant root volatiles

Kristin Schulz-Bohm*, Saskia Gerards, Maria Hundscheid, Jasper Melenhorst, Wietse de Boer, Paolina Garbeva

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Plants release a wide set of secondary metabolites including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Many of those compounds are considered to function as defense against herbivory, pests, and pathogens. However, little knowledge exists about the role of belowground plant VOCs for attracting beneficial soil microorganisms. We developed an olfactometer system to test the attraction of soil bacteria by VOCs emitted by Carex arenaria roots. Moreover, we tested whether infection of C. arenaria with the fungal pathogen Fusarium culmorum modifies the VOCs profile and bacterial attraction. The results revealed that migration of distant bacteria in soil towards roots can be stimulated by plant VOCs. Upon fungal infection, the blend of root VOCs changed and specific bacteria with antifungal properties were attracted. Tests with various pure VOCs indicated that those compounds can diffuse over long distance but with different diffusion abilities. Overall, this work highlights the importance of plant VOCs in belowground long-distance plant–microbe interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1252-1262
JournalISME Journal
Volume12
Early online date22 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2018

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