The ectomycorrhizal fungus Laccaria bicolor, revealed in green, envelops the roots of a transgenic switchgrass plant. Switchgrass is not known to communicate with this type of fungis naturally; the included PtLecRLK1 gene informs the plant to engage the fungus. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy
An Oak Ridge National Laboratory team has effectively presented a poplar gene into switchgrass, an important biofuel source, that allows switchgrass to engage with a beneficial fungi, ultimately enhancing the yard development and viability in changing environments.
Researchers observed the ectomycorrhizal fungi Laccaria bicolor as it enveloped the plants roots. This behavior, not known to occur naturally in between these fungis and switchgrass, assists the plant to efficiently use up nutrients and water. This cooperative relationship leads to switchgrass that is more illness- and drought-resistant.
” Weve engineered switchgrass to grow where it would generally have a hard time, that is, minimal land that disagrees for food crops,” said ORNLs Jay Chen. “The fungus permits the switchgrass to absorb minerals from the soil.”
In a previous study, the group determined the receptor gene that looks out for friendly fungi. Next the group will confirm the laboratory findings with a field study.
Referral: “Towards engineering ectomycorrhization into switchgrass bioenergy crops via a lectin receptor-like kinase” by Zhenzhen Qiao, Timothy B. Yates, Him K. Shrestha, Nancy L. Engle, Amy Flanagan, Jennifer L. Morrell-Falvey, Yali Sun, Timothy J. Tschaplinski, Paul E. Abraham, Jessy Labbé, Zeng-Yu Wang, Robert L. Hettich, Gerald A. Tuskan, Wellington Muchero and Jin-Gui Chen, 17 July 2021, Plant Biotechnology Journal.DOI: 10.1111/ pbi.13671.