Just like what occurs in humans, plants have been recently recognized as meta-organisms possessing a distinct microbiome which has close relationship with their associated microorganisms. The plant microbiome presents an additional reservoir of genes that the plant can have access to when needed. Plant health is thought to heavily depend also on its microbiome and plants most probably intimately affect bacterial gene expression via a communication highway of signals produced by bacteria and plants. Although plant microbiome composition is now being well studied, there is hardly any information on these signals.
Interspecies and interkingdom signaling is now a fast developing field of research; we are using plant associated bacteria to investigate these types of communication. We have identified a new sub-family of bacterial LuxR proteins which is widely present in plant associated proteobacteria which binds and consequently responds to plant signals. In addition we are using a plant disease as model of interspecies bacterial interactions which also highlights the role of these interactions in bacterial plant pathogenicity. Finally, we are identifying and characterizing rice bacterial endophytes which form stable multispecies communities having nutritional beneficial effects on plant growth. Understanding these types of communication between microbiomes and plants are a step in the right direction for future management of a more sustainable agriculture.
Host: Francesca Storici