Unraveling the physiological behavior of the plant, modulated by a synthetic microbial community, using a real-time phenotyping platform

Prof. Paulo Arruda (State University of Campinas, Brazil)

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The association of plants with microbial communities is essential to modulate the physiological behavior directly or indirectly, facilitating the acquisition of nutrients, adaptation to environmental changes such as water restriction, low or high temperatures, salinity, and pathogen attacks. Despite growing evidence of the benefits of microbial communities, knowledge about the mechanisms that govern the plant's response to beneficial plant-microorganism interactions is still minimal. In this work, we developed a real-time phenotyping platform to evaluate changes in the physiological behavior of maize plants induced by a synthetic bacterial community (SynCom). Throughout the plant's development, the platform can continuously measure a series of physiological parameters that are important for the study of plant response to abiotic stresses. Using this platform, we observed that genetically distinct maize hybrids, when inoculated with SynCom, respond differently to water restriction, increase temperatures, and alter the flow of water through the plant. SynCom-responsive combinations increased biomass production, decreased leaf temperature by up to 4oC, and slowed plant response to water stress. Under conditions of severe water deficit, uninoculated plants presented rapid toppling, a typical symptom of turgor loss compared to plants inoculated with SynCom. After a long period of underwater restriction, plant rehydration was much faster in inoculated plants than in non-inoculated ones, indicating that SynCom optimizes the use of water in the recovery process. Real-time phenotyping revealed that better water use by plants inoculated with SynCom might explain better control of leaf temperature, an essential aspect of photosynthetic efficiency. Finally, yield data showed that plants inoculated with SynCom control fundamental physiological parameters reducing production losses under water deficit conditions.


Corresponding Reference:

Armanhi JSL, de Souza RSC, Biazotti BB, Yassitepe JEdCT and Arruda P (2021) Modulating Drought Stress Response of Maize by a Synthetic Bacterial Community. Front. Microbiol. 12:747541. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.747541


Speaker Information

Prof. Paulo Arruda (State University of Campinas, Brazil)


Paulo Arruda is Professor of the Department of Genetics at the Institute of Biology, State University of Campinas, Brazil. He received his Ph.D. in Genetics from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) and has pioneered plant molecular biology and genomics in Brazil. Professor Arruda is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, The World Academy of Science (TWAS), The National Order of Scientific Merit of the Brazilian Republic Government and the Technological Merit Award from the Government of State of São Paulo, Brazil. Professor Arruda was co-founder and Scientific Director of the plant biotechnology company Alellyx Applied Genomics. He is coordinator of the Research Center in Genomics for Climate Change (GCCRC) and the Mixed Research Unit in Genomics Applied to Climate Change (UMiP GenClima), created by Embrapa and Unicamp, with support from FAPESP (Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo). Currently, he is director of the Genomics for Climate Change Research Center a partnership between the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and Unicamp.