Calling from distance: attraction of soil bacteria by plant root volatiles (ISME J.) ($)

Plant interactions with beneficial microbes are good strategies to survive biotic and abiotic challenging conditions, but the mechanisms that plants use to recruit these interactions, specially belowground, remain scarcely known. Schulz-Bohm et al. designed an olfactometer system to analyze the long distance interactions between soil bacteria and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by Carex arenaria roots. They also introduced the fungal pathogen Fusarium culmorum, to see if the presence of the pathogen affected the plants’ VOCs emissions and the presence of bacteria. Interestingly, their results showed that plant VOCs can attract a specific set of soil bacteria from long distance, as they can provide nutrient-environment information, and the microbes can differentiate between a rich- or poor- nutrient environment. In addition, when challenged with a fungal pathogen, the root VOCs changed and bacteria with antifungal properties were attracted. This olfactometer system, which resembles more closely the natural conditions belowground, can easily be used for further studies. (Summary by Maria Julissa Ek-Ramos) ISME Journal. 10.1038/s41396-017-0035-3