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

CropLife 100South Dakota Wheat Growers To Add Grain-Agronomy Facility
September 26, 2014
Planned to be constructed in Kennebec, the facility will be located along the soon-to-be rehabilitated line of heavy-rail service from Chamberlain to Presho. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Confirms Merger Of Equals Discussions With Yara International
September 23, 2014
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. has confirmed that it is in preliminary discussions with Yara International regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. 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
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

Trending Articles

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
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

Latest News

MicronutrientsVerdesian Acquires Micronutrient Supplier
September 30, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has acquired QC Corp., a producer and supplier of granular and dry micronutrients and ferrous sulfate products. Read More
Eric SfiligojHearing From Young Ag Voices
September 30, 2014
Potential future leaders in ag retail had the chance to shine at the recent Mid America CropLife Association meeting. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Appoints New Chief Operating Officer
September 29, 2014
Jon Parr will succeed retiring COO John Atkin at the end of the year. Read More
CropLife 100South Dakota Wheat Growers To Add Grain-Agronomy Facili…
September 26, 2014
Planned to be constructed in Kennebec, the facility will be located along the soon-to-be rehabilitated line of heavy-rail service from Chamberlain to Presho. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Vice President Appointments
September 25, 2014
Two individuals have been appointed Vice President positions on the GROWMARK executive team. Read More
FertilizerFertilizer Industry Organizations Join Global Alliance …
September 25, 2014
The Fertilizer Institute, the International Plant Nutrition Institute and the International Fertilizer Industry Association are encouraging the industry to promote the proper use of fertilizer products to minimize their environmental impact. Read More
Precision AgARA Organized Precision Forum Hits Capitol Hill
September 24, 2014
The Coalition for the Advancement of Precision Agriculture (CAPA) hosted its inaugural Precision Ag Forum, Sept. 18, in Washington, D.C. Read More
FertilizerFactors To Consider When Placing Fertilizer With Seed
September 24, 2014
The type of crop, fertilizer source, row spacing and soil environment all affect how much fertilizer can be safely applied with seed. Read More
FertilizerSidedressing Manure Into Corn Has Promising Results
September 24, 2014
Applying manure to growing crops can boost yields, reduce nutrient losses and give livestock producers another window of time to apply manure to farm fields. Read More
FertilizerWhen To Sample Manure For Analysis
September 24, 2014
Because the goal is to collect a sample that represents the manure actually being applied, the best time to sample is during loading or field application. Here's why. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Faces Second Lawsuit Over Agrisure Viptera Cor…
September 23, 2014
A second company has sued Syngenta AG over sales of genetically modified corn seed not approved by China. Read More
StewardshipCover Crops Field Guide For Farmers Expanded
September 23, 2014
Farmers interested in planting cover crops to improve soil health now have an updated and expanded resource in the second edition of the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide. Read More
HerbicidesArysta LifeScience Launches Contest For Wheat Growers
September 23, 2014
The Flush after Flush Photo Finish contest encourages farmers across the U.S. to participate through Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #FlushAfterFlush. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Confirms Merger Of Equals Discussions Wit…
September 23, 2014
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. has confirmed that it is in preliminary discussions with Yara International regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
StewardshipProgram To Examine Ag-Related Practices, Policies To Pr…
September 22, 2014
A panel discussion on October 14 will include a significant discussion on key issues and solutions related to all aspects of harmful algal blooms. Read More
Eric SfiligojIt’s Product Of The Year Voting Season
September 22, 2014
Readers of CropLife IRON will choose 2014’s best new product over the next month. Read More
Palmer pigweed in soybean stubble
HerbicidesValent To Discontinue Gangster Herbicide
September 22, 2014
Valent will discontinue Gangster Herbicide after the 2015 growing season as growers can now deploy Fierce XLT herbicide in soybeans. Read More
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