Frontiers in Plant Science


Phosphorus is an important plant nutrient, but in soils the majority of phosphorus, present in the form of a phosphate, forms metal complexes in soil making it relatively unavailable to plants. Therefore, inorganic phosphate solubilization is an important process of plant growth promotion by plant associated bacteria and fungi. Non nodulating plant species have been shown to thrive in low-nutrient environments, in some instances by relying on plant associated microorganisms called endophytes. These microorganisms live within the plant and help supply nutrients for the plant. Despite their potential enormous environmental importance, there are a limited number of studies looking at the direct molecular impact of phosphate solubilizing endophytic bacteria on the host plant. In this work, we studied the impact of two endophyte strains of wild poplar (Populus trichocarpa) that solubilize phosphate. Using a combination of x-ray imaging, spectroscopy methods, and proteomics we report direct evidence of endophyte-promoted phosphorus uptake in poplar. We found that the solubilized phosphate inside the plant may react and become insoluble again suggesting that the phosphate could be re-released within the plant by endophytes. Using synchrotron x-ray fluorescence spectromicroscopy combined with x-ray absorption near-edge structure, we visualized the nutrient phosphorus inside poplar roots inoculated by the selected endophytes and found the phosphorus in both forms of organic and inorganic phosphates inside the root. Tomography-based root imaging revealed a markedly different root biomass and root architecture for poplar samples inoculated with the phosphate solubilizing bacteria strains. Proteomics characterization on poplar roots coupled with protein network analysis revealed novel proteins and metabolic pathways with possible involvement in endophyte enriched phosphorus uptake. These findings suggest an important role of endophytes for phosphorus acquisition and provide a deeper understanding of the critical symbiotic associations between poplar and the endophytic bacteria.


Varga T., K.K. Hixson, A. Ahkami, A.W. Sher, M.E. Barnes, R.K. Chu, and A. Battu, et al. 2020.Endophyte-Promoted Phosphorus Solubilization in Populus.Frontiers in Plant Science 11.PNNL-SA-153351.doi:10.3389/fpls.2020.567918