Seed endophytes: needless or indispensable during plant development? (Research)
Endophytes are bacteria that colonize the internal tissues of plants without causing harm to their host. An important subgroup are the seed endophytes which are already present in the plant embryo. Recent studies suggest that seeds can serve as a vector for beneficial bacteria. However, very little is known about the effects of seed endophytes on germination and plant development. Results obtained with Nicotiana tabacum demonstrated that both the amount of cultivable seed endophytes and germination capacity decrease with increasing seed age. First, it is studied whether differences in germination and development can be related to differences in seed endophyte population. To examine this, the length of the different growth stages of Arabidopsis thaliana is compared for seeds of different ages. Next, seed endophytes isolated from seeds of different ages are characterized for their production of compounds or other mechanisms involved in germination and development. Based on this, seed endophytes are selected and labelled with green fluorescent protein to observe their colonisation pattern in the root using confocal microscopy. Finally, the growth promoting properties of these seed endophytes are studied in the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana by comparing root growth, biomass and protein expression of inoculated and non-inoculated plants.
Period of project
01 October 2010 - 30 September 2015