Amphibian Skin Bacteria Boost Plant Growth and Hormone Response

Jenn Hoskins
15th April, 2024

Amphibian Skin Bacteria Boost Plant Growth and Hormone Response

Key Findings

  • In Mexico, bacteria from frog skin can boost plant growth
  • These bacteria act as biostimulants, improving root structure and overall plant health
  • They influence plant hormones, which are key for growth and development
In a groundbreaking study by researchers at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México[1], it has been discovered that bacteria, typically found on the skin of tropical frogs, can significantly boost the growth of plants. This finding has important implications for agriculture, potentially offering a new way to enhance crop production naturally. The study focused on bacteria from the skin of three tropical frog species. Scientists have long known that these microorganisms are key to the frogs' survival, offering protection against harmful pathogens. However, the idea that they could also aid plant growth is relatively new. The researchers identified three bacterial strains that, when applied to plants, showed a remarkable ability to act as biostimulants, substances that can enhance plant growth and development. One of the plants used in the study was Arabidopsis thaliana, a model organism in plant biology. When the researchers applied the bacterial strains to this plant, they observed changes in the structure of the roots. Similarly, when the bacteria were applied to tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum), an increase in overall plant growth was noted. This suggests that the bacteria have a broad potential to act as growth enhancers across different plant species. To delve deeper into how these bacteria influence plant growth, the team conducted a transcriptomic analysis on A. thaliana. Transcriptomics is the study of the RNA transcripts that are produced by the genome, under specific circumstances or in a specific cell. The analysis showed that the presence of one particular bacterium, referred to as C32I, triggered changes in the plant's RNA related to hormone biosynthesis. Plant hormones are crucial for regulating growth, development, and response to stimuli. The bacteria appear to modulate the plant's hormonal pathways, leading to enhanced growth. This study builds upon previous research showing the importance of microorganisms in plant health and development. For example, the microbial community associated with plant roots, often referred to as the plant's "second genome," has been shown to be essential for plant health[2]. Different plant species can shape their own unique microbial communities, which can help defend against pathogens and insect attacks. Furthermore, the role of the microbiome in host-pathogen interactions is increasingly recognized as a significant factor in disease dynamics[3]. Just as the skin and gut microbiomes are vital for the immunity of animals, the plant-associated microbiome is critical for plant defense mechanisms. This new study extends this concept, suggesting that beneficial bacteria from amphibians can be harnessed to improve plant health and growth. The research also ties into observations that not all amphibians are equally susceptible to diseases like chytridiomycosis, and that the skin microbiome plays a critical role in defense against such diseases[4]. Some bacteria from the skin microbiome, such as certain Acinetobacter strains, have been shown to possess broad antifungal functions, which could be of great benefit to plants as well. Lastly, the effects of climate change on beneficial plant-microorganism interactions have been studied extensively[5]. Elevated CO2 levels, temperature changes, and drought conditions all impact these relationships, often with beneficial microorganisms aiding plant adaptation to stress. The bacteria identified in this study could represent another tool for plants to cope with changing environmental conditions. In conclusion, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México's study has revealed that bacteria from frog skin can act as powerful biostimulants for plants, enhancing growth by influencing hormonal pathways. This discovery not only sheds light on the complex interplay between microorganisms and their host plants but also opens up new possibilities for natural, microbe-based approaches to agriculture. As the world looks towards sustainable farming practices, such findings are a promising step forward in the quest to increase crop yields while maintaining ecological balance.

BiochemEcologyPlant Science


Main Study

1) Bacteria from the skin of amphibians promote growth of Arabidopsis thaliana and Solanum lycopersicum by modifying hormone-related transcriptome response.

Published 14th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) The rhizosphere microbiome and plant health.

3) Environmental Factors and Host Microbiomes Shape Host-Pathogen Dynamics.

4) Genomic characterization of antifungal Acinetobacter bacteria isolated from the skin of the frogs Agalychnis callidryas and Craugastor fitzingeri.

5) Climate change effects on beneficial plant-microorganism interactions.

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