Fetsiukh A, Conrad J, Bergquist J, Timmusk S
Int J Mol Sci 22 (12) 6201 [2021-06-08; online 2021-06-08]
In coming decades, drought is expected to expand globally owing to increased evaporation and reduced rainfall. Understanding, predicting, and controlling crop plants' rhizosphere has the potential to manipulate its responses to environmental stress. Our plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) are isolated from a natural laboratory, 'The Evolution Canyon', Israel, (EC), from the wild progenitors of cereals, where they have been co-habituating with their hosts for long periods of time. The study revealed that commercial TM50 silica particles (SN) triggered the PGPR production of exopolysaccharides (EPS) containing D-glucuronate (D-GA). The increased EPS content increased the PGPR water-holding capacity (WHC) and osmotic pressure of the biofilm matrix, which led to enhanced plant biomass in drought-stressed growth environments. Light- and cryo-electron- microscopic studies showed that, in the presence of silica (SN) particles, bacterial morphology is changed, indicating that SNs are associated with significant reprogramming in bacteria. The findings encourage the development of large-scale methods for isolate formulation with natural silicas that ensure higher WHC and hyperosmolarity under field conditions. Osmotic pressure involvement of holobiont cohabitation is also discussed.