APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Agriculture for food, bioenergy, and carbon sequestration
- Human health research
- Highly efficient in killing competing bacteria
Researchers at Berkeley Lab’s Joint Genome Institute in collaboration with scientists from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Switzerland) have discovered a genetic mechanism that efficiently inhibits growth of different bacteria, including plant pathogens, grown in culture. This invention is expected to provide more sustainable platforms and approaches for the microbial engineering of high-value crops and to enhance the ability to combat plant diseases. For more details about this technology, read the researchers’ publication in Nature Genetics.
Plants intimately associate with diverse bacteria. Plant-associated bacteria have ostensibly evolved genes that enable them to adapt to plant environments. However, the identities of such genes have been mostly unknown, and their functions are poorly characterized.
The researchers sequenced 484 genomes of bacterial isolates from roots of Brassicaceae, poplar, and maize. The team then compared 3,837 bacterial genomes to identify thousands of plant-associated gene clusters. Genomes of plant-associated bacteria encode more carbohydrate metabolism functions and fewer mobile elements than related non-plant-associated genomes do. The team experimentally validated candidates from two sets of plant-associated genes: one involved in plant colonization, and the other serving in microbe-microbe competition between plant-associated bacteria. They also identified 64 plant-associated protein domains that potentially mimic plant domains; some are shared with plant-associated fungi and oomycetes. This work expands the genome-based understanding of plant-microbe interactions and provides potential leads for efficient and sustainable agriculture through microbiome engineering.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Levy, A., Gozalez, I., Mittelviefhaus, M., Clingenpeel, S., Paredes, S., Miao, J., Wang, K., Devescovi, G., Stillman, K., Monteiro, F., Alvarez, B., Lundberg, D., Lu, T.-Y., Lebeis, S., Jin, Z., McDonald, M., Klein, A., Feltcher, M., Rio, T., Grant, S., Doty, S., Ley, R., Zhao, B., Venturi, V., Pelletier, D., Vorholt, J., Tringe, S., Woyke, T., Sangl, J. “Genomic features of bacterial adaptation to plants,” Nature Genetics, 50, 138-150, 2018
STATUS: Published PCT Patent Application US2018/059277 (Publication No. WO2019/090267). Available for licensing or collaborative research.