Healthy plants appear to carry bacteria in their cells

by Flinders University

International experts have described for the first time how healthy plants appear to carry bacteria in their cells, opening a new avenue of research to improve future plant health and propagation efforts—including food crops such as grains and fruit such as grapes.

The Indian and Australian experts have used various high-tech laboratory methods to describe how endophytic bacteria can exist inside plant cells, leading to the “baffling” concept of “alien life” in healthy plant cells.

“It’s baffling how this bacterial association in cell cultures escaped the attention of plant biologists and microbiologists considering that this is a widespread phenomenon in plant tissue cultures we tested, and the in-vitro cultures have long been used in both basic and applied research,” says senior Flinders University Professor Chris Franco.

Naming them Cytobacts, research collaborators Dr. Pious Thomas, previously from the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research and Flinders Emeritus Professor Franco say cytobacteria have been widely observed in micro-propagating stocks in crops including banana and papaya.

Veteran biotechnology scientist Flinders University Professor Franco retired from Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health this year with more than 100 papers to his credit in a long research career.

He says the milestone study suggests that Cytobacts have possibly adapted in plant species after losing some of their functions and ability to synthesize compounds so they become obligate symbionts of the plant cell.

“Potentially they are involved in some of the integral functions of plants, such as energy metabolism, or as an inducer of defense responses against other microorganisms.”

> Source: PHYS.ORG