When plants are attacked by microbial pathogens, they recruit specific beneficial microbes to their roots that stimulate the plants’ immune system, resulting in increased resistance to the attacker. Moreover, the increased abundance of these microbes benefits a next population of plants growing in the same soil. These findings by biologists of Utrecht University were published last week in ISME Journal, together with a commentary in Cell.
“We already knew that in the surrounding soil of plants, species-specific pathogens accumulate that over the years increasingly limit agricultural yields and change the demography of wild plant populations. Also, it has been reported that after severe disease outbreaks, soils can develop microbe-based disease suppressiveness. Our research now demonstrates that plant roots recruit specific microbes after pathogen attack”, says dr. Roeland Berendsen, first author of the ISME publication.