Microbiome transplants provide disease resistance in critically-endangered Hawaiian plantNovember 14, 2017
Transplanting wild microbes from healthy related plants can make a native Hawaiian plant healthier and likelier to survive in wild according to new research from The Amend Laboratory in the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (UHM) Botany Department and the O'ahu Army Natural Resources Program (OANRP). Professor Anthony Amend and postdoctoral researcher Geoff Zahn used microbes to restore the health of a critically endangered Hawaiian plant that, until now, had been driven to extinction in the wild and only survived in managed greenhouses under heavy doses of fungicide.
The plant, Phyllostegia kaalaensis, is in the mint family and only grew in the Waianae mountain range in West Oahu. It is listed as critically-endangered, and from 2002 until now, has only existed in two greenhouses on O'ahu, one managed by the State of Hawai'i and one by the U.S. Army. The major threats to its survival in the wild are habitat loss, invasive animals like pigs and rats, and diseases. In fact, one powdery mildew fungus does so much damage to these fragile plants that, even in a greenhouse, they require monthly fungicide treatments.
One problem with this fungicide-dependence is that plants aren't so different from humans or other animals--when it comes to their health, every plant and animal depends on a collection of beneficial micro-organisms. In plants, the microbes that live in their leaves, stems, and roots, are called endophytes, and "good" fungi make up an important part of this consortium. Endophytic fungi are known to help plants survive droughts, obtain nutrients and minerals, as well as fight off infections. In fact, some of our antibiotics and cancer drugs derive from these endophytes. But when plants are sprayed with fungicides in a greenhouse, it doesn't just kill the fungal diseases, it also kills the beneficial endophytes.
Amend and Zahn wanted to test the idea of whether it was possible to apply "probiotics for plants." They took leaves from a closely related wild that plant was healthy and contained a typical mix of endophytes, blended them into a smoothie and sprayed the mixture onto the leaves of P. kaalaensis to see if beneficial microbes could be transplanted from one species to another. They then subjected these plants, along with a control group, to the deadly powdery mildew. The plants that received the microbial spray were able to resist disease, those that didn?t receive the spray soon died. Using DNA barcode sequencing to identifying which species were inside leaves before, during, and after the disease, Amend and Zahn determined the beneficial fungus that was most likely responsible for protection from disease: the yeast Pseudozyma aphidis. Those treated plants did so well, that they have since been planted out in the wild, and now represent the only wild population of P. kaalaensis on the planet.
"The power of this approach lies in its simplicity," said Zahn. "There are quite a few plant species that only exist in the "purgatory" of managed greenhouses, and quickly succumb to disease when they are taken to the wild and away from their regular fungicide treatments. Spraying these plants with a slurry of beneficial fungi once before outplanting could increase their chances of surviving in the wild."
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Related Microbes Articles:
Duke researchers have shown that microbes can control their animal hosts by manipulating the molecular machinery of their cells, triggering patterns of gene expression that consequently contribute to health and disease.
What looks like a caterpillar chewing on a leaf or a beetle consuming fruit is likely a three-way battle that benefits most, if not all of the players involved, according to a Penn State entomologist.
In the microbial world, vitamin B12 is a hot commodity.
University of Utah researchers will be among the scientists convening in New Orleans for the 2017 Annual Meeting for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Jan.
New research in mice may in the future help dieters keep the weight off.
A research team at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg has taken an important step in modelling the complexity of the human gut's bacterial communities -- the microbiome -- on the computer.
Two bacterial species that inhabit the human gut activate immune cells to boost the effectiveness of a commonly prescribed anticancer drug, researchers report Oct.
Microbes improve soil quality by cycling nutrients and breaking plant residues down into soil organic matter.
Plants can better tolerate drought and other stressors with the help of natural microbes, University of Washington research has found.
Scientists have tried to alter the human gut microbiota to improve health by introducing beneficial probiotic bacteria.
Related Microbes Reading:
Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition
by Jeff Lowenfels (Author), Wayne Lewis (Author)
The 2011 Garden Writers of America Gold Award for Best Writing/Book proves soil is anything but an inert substance. Healthy soil is teeming with life -- not just earthworms and insects, but a staggering multitude of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. When we use chemical fertilizers, we injure the microbial life that sustains healthy plants, and thus become increasingly dependent on an arsenal of artificial substances, many of them toxic to humans as well as other forms of life. But there is an alternative to this vicious circle: to garden in a way that strengthens, rather than... View Details
Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes (Read and Wonder)
by Nicola Davies (Author), Emily Sutton (Illustrator)
“Sutton’s large-scale illustrations help children to visualize microorganisms and processes that are too small to see. . . . A handsome and rewarding picture book.” — Booklist (starred review) All around the world—in the sea, in the soil, in the air, and in your body—there are living things so tiny that millions could fit on an ant’s antenna. They’re busy doing all sorts of things, from giving you a cold and making yogurt to eroding mountains and helping to make the air we breathe. View Details
by Paul de Kruif (Author)
This science classic by Paul de Kruif chronicles the pioneering bacteriological work of the first scientists to see and learn from the microscopic world.
Paul de Kruif's Microbe Hunters is a timeless dramatization of the scientists, bacteriologists, doctors, and medical technicians who discovered microbes and invented the vaccines to counter them. De Kruif reveals the now seemingly simple but really fundamental discoveries of science—for instance, how a microbe was first viewed in a clear drop of rain water, and when, for the first time ever, Louis Pasteur... View Details
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
by Ed Yong (Author)
Joining the ranks of popular science classics like The Botany of Desire and The Selfish Gene, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin—a “microbe’s-eye view” of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on earth.
Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new... View Details
Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues
by Martin J. Blaser MD (Author)
"Missing Microbes presents a surprisingly clear perspective on a complex problem."-The Philadelphia Inquirer
In Missing Microbes, Dr. Martin J. Blaser invites us into the wilds of the human microbiome, where for hundreds of thousands of years bacterial and human cells have existed in a peaceful symbiosis that is responsible for the equilibrium and health of our bodies. Now this invisible Eden is under assault from our overreliance on medical advances including antibiotics and caesarian sections, threatening the extinction of... View Details
by Michele Swanson (Author), Gemma Reguera (Author), Moselio Schaechter (Author), Frederick C. Neidhardt (Author)
Brings the excitement, breadth, and power of the modern microbial sciences to the next generation of students and scientists.
This new edition of Microbe is an eloquent and highly readable introduction to microbiology that will engage and excite science majors and pre-health professionals. The authors, all prominent scientists, have carefully crafted this lively narrative to bring key microbiology concepts to life and promote a lifelong passion for the microbial sciences.
Far more than a comprehensive reference book, Microbe is replete with case... View Details
10% Human: How Your Body's Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness
by Alanna Collen (Author)
You are just 10% human. For every one of the cells that make up the vessel that you call your body, there are nine impostor cells hitching a ride. You are not just flesh and blood, muscle and bone, brain and skin, but also bacteria and fungi. Over your lifetime, you will carry the equivalent weight of five African elephants in microbes. You are not an individual but a colony.
Until recently, we had thought our microbes hardly mattered, but science is revealing a different story, one in which microbes run our bodies; remaining a healthy human is impossible without them.
In this... View Details
Microbes: Discover an Unseen World (Build It Yourself)
by Christine Burillo-Kirch (Author), Tom Casteel (Illustrator)
If our vision improved one million times, we would be able to see microbes in the air, on our skin, in the soil, in water, and on food! In Microbes: Discover an Unseen World, readers journey through microscopic worlds that collide with our own on a daily basis to encounter bacteria, viruses, fungi, protists, and archaea.
There are some microbes we can’t live without, such as those that help us digest our food, while others can harm or even kill us, such as influenza and ebola. Microbes looks at some of the ways the body protects itself from diseases and infections... View Details
Planet of Microbes: The Perils and Potential of Earth's Essential Life Forms
by Ted Anton (Author)
We live in a time of unprecedented scientific knowledge about the origins of life on Earth. But if we want to grasp the big picture, we have to start small—very small. That’s because the real heroes of the story of life on Earth are microbes, the tiny living organisms we cannot see with the naked eye. Microbes were Earth’s first lifeforms, early anaerobic inhabitants that created the air we breathe. Today they live, invisible and seemingly invincible, in every corner of the planet, from Yellowstone’s scalding hot springs to Antarctic mountaintops to inside our very bodies—more than... View Details
Inside Your Insides: A Guide to the Microbes That Call You Home
by Claire Eamer (Author), Marie-Eve Tremblay (Illustrator)
?Wherever you go, tiny hitchhikers tag along for the ride,? this intriguing illustrated nonfiction book begins. ?The hitchhikers are actually microbes --- tiny living things so small that you need a microscope to see them. And every person carries around trillions and trillions of these critters.? Six of the most common ?critters? that live in and on our bodies are introduced here: bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, protists and mites. Each one has its own preferred environment, and readers will be startled (and likely a little grossed out!) by the many places they live, including the hair... View Details