Root-associated bacterial communities and root metabolite composition are linked to nitrogen use efficiency in sorghum.

Chai YN, Qi Y, Goren E, Chiniquy D, Sheflin AM, Tringe SG, Prenni JE, Liu P, Schachtman DP

Published: 22 December 2023 in mSystems
Keywords: bacterial communities, biomass, nitrogen stress, nitrogen use efficiency, root metabolites, sorghum
Pubmed ID: 38132569
DOI: 10.1128/msystems.01190-23

The development of crops that are more nitrogen use-efficient (NUE) is critical for the future of the enhanced sustainability of agriculture worldwide. This objective has been pursued mainly through plant breeding and plant molecular engineering, but these approaches have had only limited success. Therefore, a different strategy that leverages soil microbes needs to be fully explored because it is known that soil microbes improve plant growth through multiple mechanisms. To design approaches that use the soil microbiome to increase NUE, it will first be essential to understand the relationship among soil microbes, root metabolites, and crop productivity. Using this approach, we demonstrated that certain key metabolites and specific microbes are associated with high and low sorghum NUE in a field study. This important information provides a new path forward for developing crop genotypes that have increased NUE through the positive contribution of soil microbes.