Exploring Soil Bacteria for Compounds to Fight Soybean Diseases

Jim Crocker
2nd March, 2024

Exploring Soil Bacteria for Compounds to Fight Soybean Diseases

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Amazon soil bacteria can produce substances to fight crop fungi
  • Five strains were found to inhibit harmful soybean pathogens
  • Study highlights need to preserve Amazon for agriculture benefits
The Amazon rainforest, often referred to as the "lungs of the Earth," is not only a vast repository of plant and animal life but also a treasure trove of microorganisms with potential benefits for agriculture. A recent study by researchers at the University of São Paulo[1] has delved into this microscopic world, specifically examining the soil around the Paullinia cupana plant, a native Amazonian crop. Their goal was to explore the metabolic diversity of actinobacteria in the region and their ability to produce substances that could protect crops from fungal diseases. Actinobacteria are a group of soil-dwelling bacteria known for their prolific production of natural products, many of which have been harnessed as antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. In the face of rising concerns about crop diseases and the limitations of current fungicides[2][3], these microorganisms offer a promising avenue for the discovery of new, environmentally friendly crop protection agents. The study employed cutting-edge analytical techniques like UPLC-MS/MS along with advanced computational tools to map out the chemical compounds produced by 24 strains of actinobacteria. These methods allowed the researchers to identify a range of metabolites, including some previously known for their antifungal properties, like pepstatins and oligomycins, as well as others that are yet to be fully understood. Five of these strains stood out for their ability to inhibit the growth of common soybean pathogens: Rhizoctonia solani, Macrophomina phaseolina, and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. These pathogens are not just a threat to soybeans but also to a variety of other important crops. The discovery of actinobacteria with the potential to fight these fungi is particularly timely, given reports of increased fungicide resistance[2], and the ongoing search for new antifungal agents, as demonstrated by the discovery of niphimycin C, a compound with potent activity against banana Fusarium wilt[3]. The study's findings are significant for several reasons. First, they underscore the importance of biodiversity in finding solutions to agricultural challenges. The unique environmental conditions of the Amazon, much like those of the Brazilian campos rupestres[4], have led to the evolution of microorganisms with specialized adaptations. These adaptations include the ability to produce a rich array of metabolites that can help plants acquire nutrients in nutrient-poor soils or defend against pathogens. Furthermore, the research methodology presented in the study serves as a blueprint for future investigations into the metabolic potential of environmental microbiomes. By integrating various analytical and bioinformatics tools, the researchers have laid out a path for efficiently pinpointing promising strains of bacteria and the bioactive compounds they produce. The implications of this research extend beyond the scientific community. With the global population continuing to grow, there is a pressing need to protect food and fiber production[5]. Natural products and their synthetic equivalents have historically played a significant role in crop protection, particularly in the development of insecticides. However, herbicides and fungicides have been less influenced by natural product research[5]. The findings from the University of São Paulo contribute to bridging this gap by highlighting new sources of natural products for crop protection. In conclusion, the study from the University of São Paulo not only sheds light on the untapped metabolic diversity of Amazonian actinobacteria but also offers a glimpse of hope for sustainable agriculture. As researchers continue to unravel the complexities of the Amazonian microbiome, it becomes increasingly clear that preserving this ecosystem is crucial—not just for its intrinsic value but also for its potential to aid in global food security. The actinobacteria of the Amazon may hold the key to the next generation of crop protection agents, offering a natural solution to the challenges of disease management in agriculture.

BiotechPlant ScienceAgriculture


Main Study

1) Accessing the specialized metabolome of actinobacteria from the bulk soil of Paullinia cupana Mart. on the Brazilian Amazon: a promising source of bioactive compounds against soybean phytopathogens.

Published 29th February, 2024


Related Studies

2) Status of Fungicide Resistance and Physiological Characterization of Tebuconazole Resistance in Rhizocotonia solani in Sichuan Province, China.


3) Discovery of Niphimycin C from Streptomyces yongxingensis sp. nov. as a Promising Agrochemical Fungicide for Controlling Banana Fusarium Wilt by Destroying the Mitochondrial Structure and Function.


4) Plant microbiomes harbor potential to promote nutrient turnover in impoverished substrates of a Brazilian biodiversity hotspot.


5) Natural Product-Based Crop Protection Compounds─Origins and Future Prospects.


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