Soil Biology

Plant probiotics to the rescue

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Science  12 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6274, pp. 677
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6274.677-a

Soil-dwelling bacteria can protect strawberry plants from fungal wilt


Some soils protect crops against their microbial attackers without any pesticides or fungicides. Cha et al. investigated the microbial and biochemical basis of this effect in a patch of soil that excluded fungal wilt on strawberry plants, despite 15 years of monoculture. Mixing in the protective soil transferred this suppressive effect into neighboring disease-ridden soils, which gained increasingly better disease-control capacity with successive growing cycles. A strain of Streptomyces bacteria, a group renowned for producing antibiotics, emerged as the chief agent that suppressed the pathogenic fungi. The Streptomyces produced an interesting large heat-stable thiopeptide antibiotic with antifungal properties. Thus, much like the development of probiotics to combat gut diseases, probiotics for soil should be feasible.

ISME J. 10, 119 (2016)

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