April 14, 2024

Understanding plant microbiomes

Research shows importance of microorganisms to plants

Bacteria are the largest and most well-studied component of plant microbiomes. Bacteria in the genus Rhizobium are the most well-known bacterial symbiont of plants. The bacteria colonize the root cells of certain plant species to form nodules where they convert atmospheric nitrogen gas into ammonia that the plants can use for their growth. In turn, the host plants provide the bacteria with carbohydrates in the form of sugars and other organic compounds through photosynthesis.

CHATHAM, Ill. — Research continues to shed light on the importance of microorganisms to plants, according to experts at Corteva Agriscience.

Crops such as soybeans and alfalfa receive a significant portion of nitrogen from the microorganisms that colonize the roots.

In return, these microorganisms receive organic acids from the plants as a source of carbon and energy.

Beneficial effects that microbes can provide in crop plants include:

• Nitrogen fixation.

• Abiotic stress tolerance.

• Improved plant health and function.

• Nutrient uptake and availability.

• Disease suppression.

“We have to make sure we’re managing resources like fertilizers and nutrients in order to pass on a better field for the next generation,” said Matt Montgomery, Pioneer field agronomist. “We also have to be conscious of these decisions while we continue to feed billions of people.”

The need for sustainable solutions in agricultural production and the pressure to drive gains in crop yield will continue to fuel growth in microbiome research and microbial products, Montgomery said.

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor