Plant Bacteria Improves Crop Health

Common plant-associated bacteria, best known to suppress soil-borne root diseases, now have been found to boost corn yields in low-pH soils. The discovery made by Ohio State University plant pathologists is the first-known documentation of a root-colonizing bacterium improving plant health in acidic soil conditions.

"No one in the past has identified such microorganisms as having such a profound effect on protecting the plant under situations caused by low soil pH," says Brian McSpadden Gardener, an Ohio State University plant pathologist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and principal investigator of the project. "The discovery could pave the way for more sustainable cropping practices based on microbial inoculants. This includes organic farmers who cannot use chemical seed treatments, as well as those farmers in developing countries who don’t have access to affordable lime to manage soil acidity that often can limit crop yields," he explains.

The study, "Seed Treatment with 2,4-Diacetylphloroglucinol-Producting Pseudomonads Improves Crop Health in Low-pH Soils by Altering Patterns of Nutrient Uptake," was recently published in the journal Phytopathology.

During a study to test the efficacy of DAPG-bacteria for disease control, McSpadden Gardener and his colleagues were surprised to find remarkable differences in plant growth in a portion of the field, which was later found to be more acidic than the rest of the field. Follow-up work showed that the bacterial seed treatment prevented the development of abiotic stress disorder and increased yields of corn plants growing in acidic soils (i.e., with pH levels less than 5.0).

In two consecutive growing seasons, the researchers found that corn plants treated with DAPG-producing bacteria were taking up more essential nutrients, such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium, while limiting the amount of aluminum and manganese, which can be toxic in high levels.

"In low-pH soils, most crops experience nutrient stress in the form of phosphorus deficiencies and aluminum and/or manganese toxicity. The plants show loss of chlorophyll with specking and streaking of plant leaves," says McSpadden Gardener. "Seed treated with DAPG-producing bacteria relieved that stress and the plants grew normally."

The bacteria used in the experiments represent a widely distributed Pseudomonas fluorescens strain that produces a biofungicidal compound called 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol (DAPG). This compound is known to help suppress soil-borne diseases and stimulate the plant’s immune system. However, it is not clear whether DAPG or some other products produced by the tested strain are responsible for the newly discovered beneficial effects under acidic soil conditions.

How DAPG-producing bacteria are altering plant uptake is not yet known, but the researchers speculate that either the bacteria are altering the plant’s physiology to allow uptake of needed nutrients while preventing the uptake of more toxic ones, or alkalizing the soil around the plant’s root zone so that the plant is not exposed to low ph-soils around it.

DAPG-producing bacteria, with all of their myriad plant health benefits, are not yet commercially available in the United States. But McSpadden Gardener’s research, as well as studies conducted elsewhere, have indicated that these bacteria can provide viable options for low-cost, natural crop protection. The research was funded, in part, by a USDA National Research Initiative grant and an OARDC Integrated Pest Management program grant.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Plant Bacteria Improves Crop Health

  1. Glad to see information on your site on Integrated Pest Management. I am providing training-of-trainers for crop-pest-disease control in three Afghanistan provinces, naturally promoting environmentally sound practices consistent with the Foreign Assistance Act’s Environmental Procedures, 22CFR216.

Featured Stories

Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More

Trending Articles

FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More

Latest News

Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Crowd Tops 2013 Show
September 19, 2014
The 52nd annual Ohio State University Farm Science Review welcomed more than 130,000 farmers, industry professionals, FFA students and agricultural enthusiasts during the three-day event. Read More
Seed/BiotechUSDA Approves Enlist Following Rigorous Review
September 18, 2014
Dow AgroSciences now awaits EPA registration of Enlist Duo herbicide, the companion herbicide to the Enlist traits, which is expected in the near future. Read More
BlendersYargus Appoints New Plant Manager
September 18, 2014
Steve Shaffer will direct and coordinate daily operations at the company’s Marshall, IL, manufacturing plant, where the Layco line of material handling equipment is produced. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More