Update in research from UU: Plant protects next generation via soil


Plants recruit soil bacteria to protect against downy mildew, forming a leaf-based defense system. The bacteria not only combat pathogens but also leave a protective legacy in the soil for the next plant generation. This discovery, published today by Utrecht University biologists, offers a promising path toward creating crops that naturally fend off diseases, reducing reliance on harmful pesticides in agriculture.


At the Institute of Environmental Biology at Utrecht University (UU), microbiologists study how plants and soil microbes reciprocally influence and protect each other. "Soil bacteria are important for plant health," says researcher Roeland Berendsen. "Following infection of the laboratory model plant Arabidopsis thaliana by downy mildew, plants promote the growth of a very specific set of plant-protective bacteria." It appears that plants, figuratively, cry out for help and specific microbes come to the rescue.


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