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Microbiome. 2018 Dec 26;6(1):231. doi: 10.1186/s40168-018-0615-0.

Rhizosphere microorganisms can influence the timing of plant flowering.

Author information

1
College of Environment, Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou, 310032, People's Republic of China.
2
Quebec-Ocean and Takuvik Joint International Research Unit, Université Laval, Québec, G1VOA6, Canada.
3
College of Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou, 310032, People's Republic of China.
4
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, 2109, Australia.
5
CSIC, Global Ecology Unit, CREAF-CSIC-UAB, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
6
CREAF, Cerdanyola del Vallès, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
7
College of Environment, Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou, 310032, People's Republic of China. hfqian@zjut.edu.cn.
8
Xinjiang Key Laboratory of Environmental Pollution and Bioremediation, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi, 830011, People's Republic of China. hfqian@zjut.edu.cn.
9
Key Lab of Urban Environment and Health, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen, 361021, People's Republic of China. ygzhu@iue.ac.cn.
10
State Key Lab of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Ecoenvironmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100085, People's Republic of China. ygzhu@iue.ac.cn.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Plant phenology has crucial biological, physical, and chemical effects on the biosphere. Phenological drivers have largely been studied, but the role of plant microbiota, particularly rhizosphere microbiota, has not been considered.

RESULTS:

We discovered that rhizosphere microbial communities could modulate the timing of flowering of Arabidopsis thaliana. Rhizosphere microorganisms that increased and prolonged N bioavailability by nitrification delayed flowering by converting tryptophan to the phytohormone indole acetic acid (IAA), thus downregulating genes that trigger flowering, and stimulating further plant growth. The addition of IAA to hydroponic cultures confirmed this metabolic network.

CONCLUSIONS:

We document a novel metabolic network in which soil microbiota influenced plant flowering time, thus shedding light on the key role of soil microbiota on plant functioning. This opens up multiple opportunities for application, from helping to mitigate some of the effects of climate change and environmental stress on plants (e.g. abnormal temperature variation, drought, salinity) to manipulating plant characteristics using microbial inocula to increase crop potential.

KEYWORDS:

Arabidopsis; Flowering time; Indole acetic acid; Microbiota; Nitrogen; Rhizosphere; Root exudate

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