banner
photo courtesy of Britt Koskella lab
photo courtesy of Britt Koskella lab

Much as in humans, a healthy microbiome can help ensure that plants are resistant to pathogens. In a study conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, researchers used experimental evolution to identify the core microbiome of commercial tomatoes by searching for microbial communities that could defend against random microbes landing on the plants. The findings indicate that the plant microbiome could be manipulated with probiotics to create crops that require less fertilizer and pesticides while still producing robust yields.

During the experiments, four successive generations of plants were sprayed with the microbiomes of the previous generation. The microbial community of each tomato type was nurtured through generations so it could adapt to each strain, eliminate maladapted microbes, and help well-adapted ones to grow. By the fourth generation, the original microbial taxa accounted for only 25%, with the remaining 75% going extinct.

“That is really interesting in itself because it suggests that a lot of the microbes out there aren’t well-adapted, they are kind of there by chance,” explained study leader Britt Koskella, in a press release. “The wind blew them there, rain splashed them there, but they are not thriving, they are likely not adapted to that particular environment.”

When a mixture of microbes—50% taken from the partially adapted microbiome of the first generation and 50% from the fourth generation—was sprayed on the tomato plants, the fourth-generation microbes prevailed, indicating they were better adapted to the tomato.

Koskella finds the results encouraging. “We already know that, in theory, you can select for microbes that perform particular functions: increased yield, drought tolerance or disease resistance, for example,” she said. “We are showing here that you can, in principle, create a microbial community that has the function you are interested in, but also is uninvadable, because it is really well-adapted to that plant.”

The researchers are conducting additional experiments to discover if the selected microbiome actually improves plant health, resilience, and productivity, and if the integration of probiotic microbes can successfully deliver lasting crop benefits.

More from IFTNEXT right arrow

A new approach to reducing salt while maintaining taste

The dangers of a high-sodium diet have been well documented, but a new technology devised by scientists from Washington State University could help reduce sodium in processed foods while retaining taste and texture.

Sucralose–carbohydrate combo may affect insulin sensitivity

A study found that people who drank beverages that contained the low-calorie sweetener sucralose did experience metabolic problems and issues with neural responses but only when the beverage was formulated with both sucralose and a tasteless sugar (maltodextrin).

Manipulating photosynthesis for food security

British scientists have gained new insights into the compound in plants that plays a vital role in the natural process through which plants grow.

New rapid tests for botulinum toxin

In the food industry, botulinum toxin is associated with a severe form of food poisoning caused by improperly preserved food. Researchers have developed a technology that addresses the role of botulinum toxin in both food and cosmetic applications.

More from IFT right arrow

Feeding the Gut Microbiome

The microbes inhabiting our intestinal tract work in concert with our genes, the foods we eat, our environment, and other factors to influence our health and risk for disease.

A Piña Colada Tastes Better on a (Virtual) Beach

During IFT19, an interactive event allowed participants to be immersed in a virtual environment to test whether their surroundings would alter their liking of beverages.

Food Chemistry Is Thriving in Bourbon Country

The food chemistry research at the University of Kentucky fosters new product development.

The Prevalence, Transmission, and Control of C. difficile in Food

The article describes what Clostridioides difficile is and how it is transitioning from being a problem mainly in hospitals and nursing homes to being a problem in the food industry.

Latest News right arrow

FAO predicts a global shortage of protein-rich foods

According to the Cornell Alliance for Science, a new report out from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations predicts there will be a global shortage of protein-rich foods this year due to COVID-19 and other factors.

FAO partners to promote food security in vulnerable countries

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been accredited as an implementing partner of the Adaptation Fund and will work with the international fund on projects to help vulnerable countries fight the harmful effects of climate change.

Preventing the next pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, a new report warns that further outbreaks will emerge unless governments take active measures to prevent other zoonotic diseases from crossing into the human population and sets out recommendations to prevent future pandemics.

U.S. nonprofit, Zambian farm supplier partner to boost crop yields

According to Reuters, African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), an American nonprofit organization, has launched a $40 million joint venture with African Green Resources (AGR), one of Zambia’s top farm suppliers, to boost crop yields and food security as farmers struggle to access finance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

USDA extends Farmers to Families Food Box Program contracts for some vendors

The USDA will extend the contracts of select vendors from the first round of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.