Mutualism

Root to shoot protection

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Science  29 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6469, pp. 1091-1092
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6469.1091-c

Honey bee, Apis mellifera, feeding on a strawberry flower

PHOTO: JESS311/ISTOCK.COM

Noble rot caused by the gray mold Botrytis cinerea is essential to producing the world's finest wines, but under different conditions, this mold devastates soft fruit crops. Kim et al. investigated how plants and their microbial partners defend against this ubiquitous greenhouse pathogen. They identified a filamentous Streptomyces sp. bacterium, a genus renowned for synthesizing antibioticlike molecules, associated with strawberry plants. Streptomyces globisporus SP6C4 was found in all vascular tissues of the plants, even in the pollen. The occurrence of SP6C4 associated with low levels of mold disease. In greenhouse experiments, honey bees ingested the SP6C4-laden strawberry pollen and not only benefited from a reduction in potential insect pathogens but also acted as vectors of the protective SP6C4 to mold-susceptible greenhouse plants. The natural products produced by SP6C4 have not yet been characterized.

Nat. Commun. 10, 4802 (2019).

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