Title : Vertically and horizontally transmitted genetic information in plant::Plant and plant::Microbe interactions
Plants are inundated by seas of microbes in every tissue, in every environment and at every stage of development. Some of these microbes cause disease, while a few are known to enhance plant performance by preventing disease or by improving nutrient acquisition. Perhaps because the microbial diversity of all microbes (including beneficials) is much lower on the aerial parts of plants, diseases of these tissues are much more common than are root diseases. Because microbes have very high population numbers and short generation times, they are expected to be the routine winners in the never-ending evolutionary arms race between virulence of pathogens and disease resistance in host plants. However, recent work has shown that plants have more sources of genetic variation than previously expected, including horizontal gene transfer and site-directed recombination. Moreover, the microbial community in any given environment is uniquely established by each unique plant genotype, providing the opportunity for plant scientists to design host genotypes that create an optimal microbial community to improve plant performance and crop yield. This presentation will describe our experiments to map and identify the plant genes responsible for the determination of microbial composition associated with several different plant species and plant tissues. These studies are also uncovering previously unknown beneficial microbes, and laying the groundwork for breeding crops that show excellent and durable productivity without the need for fertilizers or pesticides.
Take Away Notes:
• A greater understanding of the nature and rate of plant genome instability, particularly as it relates to the evolution of new gene function.
• A strategy for identifying the plant genes that contribute to plant-associated microbial composition.
• A model for plant breeding to control the microbial composition that provides optimal plant services to its crop hosts in both stress resistance and nutrient use efficiency.