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Cable bacteria are sulfide-oxidising, filamentous bacteria that reduce toxic sulfide levels, suppress methane emissions and drive nutrient and carbon cycling in sediments. Recently, cable bacteria have been found associated with roots of aquatic plants and rice (Oryza sativa). However, the extent to which cable bacteria are associated with aquatic plants in nature remains unexplored. Using newly generated and public 16S rRNA gene sequence datasets combined with fluorescence in situ hybridisation, we investigated the distribution of cable bacteria around the roots of aquatic plants, encompassing seagrass (including seagrass seedlings), rice, freshwater and saltmarsh plants. Diverse cable bacteria were found associated with roots of 16 out of 28 plant species and at 36 out of 55 investigated sites, across four continents. Plant-associated cable bacteria were confirmed across a variety of ecosystems, including marine coastal environments, estuaries, freshwater streams, isolated pristine lakes and intensive agricultural systems. This pattern indicates that this plant-microbe relationship is globally widespread and neither obligate nor species specific. The occurrence of cable bacteria in plant rhizospheres may be of general importance to vegetation vitality, primary productivity, coastal restoration practices and greenhouse gas balance of rice fields and wetlands.
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