128: Managing Plant Pathogens Using Streptomyces with Linda Kinkel

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By American Society for Microbiology and Julie Wolf. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

How can the intricate relationship between soil microbiota and plants be managed for improved plant health? Linda Kinkel discusses new insights into the plant rhizosphere and the ways that some Streptomyces isolates can protect agricultural crops against bacterial, fungal, oomycete, and nematode infections.

Julie’s Biggest Takeaways:

The soil microbiome is extremely dynamic, with boom-and-bust cycles driven by nutrient fluxes, microbial interactions, plant-driven microbial interactions, and signaling interactions. Finding the source of these boom-and-bust cycles can help people to manage the microbiome communities and produce plant-beneficial communities for agricultural purposes.

Rhizosphere soil is soil closely associated with the root and is distinct from rhizoplane soil that directly touches the root. The endophytic rhizosphere are those microbes that get inside the root. Many scientists view these communities as a continuum rather than sharply delineated.

Plants provide necessary carbon for the largely heterotrophic soil microbiota, and these microorganisms help the plants in several ways too:

  • Microbes mediate plant growth by production of plant growth hormones.
  • Microbes provide nutrients through mechanisms like nitrogen fixation or phosphorus solubilization.
  • Microbes protect the plant from stress or drought conditions.

Through a University of Minnesota plant pathology program, potatos were passaged in a field for over 2 decades to study potato diseases. Over time, researchers found fewer diseases in test crops, which led the plot to be abandoned in the late 1970s. In the 1980s, Dr. Neil Anderson planted potatoes to see if they would develop disease, but neither Verticillium wilt nor potato scab developed among the plants. Soil from the field (and on the potatoes) contained Streptomyces isolates that showed antimicrobial activity against bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and oomycetes. This discovery led Neil, new University of Minnesota professor Linda, and their collaborators to study the antimicrobial activity of natural Streptomyces isolates from around the world.

Inoculation quickly adds specific microbial lineages to soil microbiome communities. Alternatively, land can be managed by providing nutrients to encourage the growth of specific species, like Streptomyces, within a given plot, but this takes longer to develop. How are soil microbiomes inoculated? Microbes can be:

  • Added to the seed coating before planting.
  • Placed in the furrow when the seed is planted.
  • Distributed into the irrigation system.

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