Tequila Bacteria Boosts Tomato Health and Soil Life Against Disease

Jenn Hoskins
30th April, 2024

Tequila Bacteria Boosts Tomato Health and Soil Life Against Disease

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In India, a study found that B. tequilensis PBE-1 bacteria protect tomatoes from Fusarium wilt
  • Treated plants showed stronger defenses and maintained better overall health
  • The beneficial soil microbes around the plants remained healthy after treatment
Tomatoes are a staple in diets worldwide, but they face a formidable foe in Fusarium wilt disease, caused by the soilborne pathogen Fusarium oxysporum. This disease not only wreaks havoc on tomato plants but can also affect over 100 other plant species and even pose risks to human health in immune-compromised patients[2]. Researchers at the CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute have made a significant breakthrough in the fight against this disease[1]. Their recent study provides hope for a sustainable solution to protect tomatoes and potentially other crops from the destructive pathogen. The study focuses on a biological control agent, Bacillus tequilensis PBE-1, and its effects on tomato plants and soil microflora when under attack from Fusarium wilt. B. tequilensis PBE-1 is a type of beneficial bacteria that can help plants resist diseases. The researchers found that treating tomato plants with PBE-1 led to increased lignin deposition in the plants' cells, which serves as a barrier against the invading pathogen, thereby reducing cellular damage. Metabolite profiling, which involves analyzing the chemical fingerprints that specific cellular processes leave behind, revealed that PBE-1 treatment helped alleviate the stress caused by F. oxysporum infection. This was evidenced by the improved transpiration, photosynthesis, and stomatal conductance in the tomato plants. Essentially, the plants could breathe, produce energy, and regulate water more effectively when treated with PBE-1. Gene expression analysis using a technique called quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) showed that defense-related genes in the tomato plants were highly activated during F. oxysporum infection. These genes included FLS2 and SERK, which are involved in the plant's immune response[3]. However, when PBE-1 was present, these genes were either downregulated or expressed at normal levels, suggesting that the plant did not perceive the bio-control agent as a threat, and it helped maintain the plant’s normal metabolism and gene expression. An interesting aspect of the study was the examination of soil microflora, the community of microorganisms living in the soil around the plant roots. The researchers used a method called Average Well Colour Development (AWCD) to measure the activity of these microorganisms. They found that the soil microflora's activity increased over time following pathogen infection, with PBE-1 treatment leading to distinct patterns in the utilization of energy sources by the microbes, such as tannic and fumaric acids. Further analysis through Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and diversity indices like McIntosh, Shannon, and Simpson revealed significant shifts in the microbial community composition over the study period. This is crucial because the soil microflora plays a vital role in plant health and soil fertility, and any treatment for plant diseases must not disrupt these beneficial communities. The incorporation of sugars in plant defense mechanisms has been previously suggested[4], and while the current study does not delve into this directly, the overall improvement of plant health with PBE-1 treatment may indirectly support the role of sugars in the plant's immune response by maintaining a healthier plant metabolism. In conclusion, the study by the CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute demonstrates that B. tequilensis PBE-1 is not only effective in reducing the damage caused by Fusarium wilt in tomatoes but also does so without disturbing the ecological balance of the soil microflora. This positions PBE-1 as an ideal candidate for field application in the management of Fusarium wilt disease, offering a safer and potentially cheaper alternative to toxic agrochemicals. The findings also underscore the importance of a holistic approach to plant health, considering both the plant's internal defense mechanisms and the surrounding soil ecosystem.

AgricultureBiotechPlant Science


Main Study

1) Bacillus tequilensis influences metabolite production in tomato and restores soil microbial diversity during Fusarium oxysporum infection.

Published 29th April, 2024


Related Studies

2) Host-Pathogen Interaction in Fusarium oxysporum Infections: Where Do We Stand?


3) Diverse roles of SERK family genes in plant growth, development and defense response.


4) Sugars and plant innate immunity.


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