J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2021, Vol. 63 ›› Issue (6): 1021-1035.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.13073

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Functional assembly of root-associated microbial consortia improves nutrient efficiency and yield in soybean

Cunhu Wang, Yanjun Li, Mingjia Li, Kefei Zhang, Wenjing Ma, Lei Zheng, Hanyu Xu, Baofeng Cui, Ran Liu, Yongqing Yang, Yongjia Zhong* and Hong Liao   

  1. Root Biology Center, College of Resources and Environment, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou 350002, China

    These authors contributed equally to this work.
    *Correspondence: Yongjia Zhong (Yongjiazhong@fafu.edu.cn)
  • Received:2020-12-18 Accepted:2021-01-20 Online:2021-01-25 Published:2021-06-01

Abstract: Root-associated microbes are critical for plant growth and nutrient acquisition. However, scant information exists on optimizing communities of beneficial root-associated microbes or the mechanisms underlying their interactions with host plants. In this report, we demonstrate that root-associated microbes are critical influencers of host plant growth and nutrient acquisition. Three synthetic communities (SynComs) were constructed based on functional screening of 1,893 microbial strains isolated from root-associated compartments of soybean plants. Functional assemblage of SynComs promoted significant plant growth and nutrient acquisition under both N/P nutrient deficiency and sufficiency conditions. Field trials further revealed that application of SynComs stably and significantly promoted plant growth, facilitated N and P acquisition, and subsequently increased soybean yield. Among the tested communities, SynCom1 exhibited the greatest promotion effect, with yield increases of up to 36.1% observed in two field sites. Further RNA-seq implied that SynCom application systemically regulates N and P signaling networks at the transcriptional level, which leads to increased representation of important growth pathways, especially those related to auxin responses. Overall, this study details a promising strategy for constructing SynComs based on functional screening, which are capable of enhancing nutrient acquisition and crop yield through the activities of beneficial root-associated microbes.

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