Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Phragmites partners with microbes to plot native plants' demise

Date:
December 28, 2009
Source:
University of Delaware
Summary:
Researchers have uncovered a novel means of conquest employed by the common reed, Phragmites australis, which ranks as one of the world's most invasive plants.

Members of the UD research team with Phragmites plants are, from left, Emily Alff, undergraduate researcher; Prof. Harsh Bais, who led the study; Amutha Sampath Kumar, postdoctoral researcher; and Prof. Thomas Hanson.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Delaware

University of Delaware researchers have uncovered a novel means of conquest employed by the common reed, Phragmites australis, which ranks as one of the world's most invasive plants.

The invasive strain, which hails from Eurasia, overtakes its "native" cousin, which has lived in North America for the past 10,000 years, ironically by provoking the native plant to "take itself out," through a combination of microbial and enzymatic activity in the soil.

The research by an interdisciplinary UD team led by Harsh Bais, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences, is reported in the December issue of the scientific journal Plant Physiology and also is highlighted in one of the journal's editorials.

Bais's co-authors include postdoctoral researchers Gurdeep Bains and Amutha Sampath Kumar in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Thimmaraju Rudrappa, a former UD postdoctoral researcher who is now a research scientist at DuPont; Emily Alff, an undergraduate who became involved in the study through a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) fellowship; and Thomas Hanson, associate professor of marine biosciences in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.

In previous research, a team led by Bais determined that Phragmites employs a strategy known as allelopathy, in which plants release toxic chemicals into the soil to deter other plants from growing close to them.

In soil studies at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, a premier center for life sciences research at UD, the scientists discovered that invasive Phragmites produces elevated levels of a benign compound, a precursor of gallic acid known as gallotannin, relative to its native cousin.

However, when this gallotannin, a polymeric phenol, is attacked by tannase produced through enzymatic activity by native plants and rhizospheric microbes, toxic gallic acid is produced and released in the root zone, exacerbating the invasive Phragmites' noxiousness.

"The tannins are like partners in crime in the process," Bais said.

He noted that Hanson and Kumar collected microbes present on the root surface of the plants and revealed that the "bugs" cleave the polymer (gallotannin) to release the monomer (gallic acid) because the microbes are using the tannins as a carbon source.

"It's like a two-way highway," Bais said, "the plant is working with bacteria to secrete gallic acid into the soil."

Bais says that the microbial population is the same in the native versus the invasive Phragmites. The invasive variety simply secretes more gallotannins into the soil than its native cousin, putting the native plant at a disadvantage in turf battles between the two strains.

Phragmites has overtaken millions of acres of wetlands in the United States, thanks to the aggressive, invasive strain of the plant that came on the scene some 200 years ago from Eurasia.

The exotic species has displaced the non-aggressive native variety of the plant, relegating the native strain to isolated patches and wetland margins along the Atlantic coast.

"Now we have a way to remedy the sick soil," Bais said. "After years of research, we have identified a mechanism that may lead to a solution to the Phragmites invasion."

The research was supported by the University of Delaware Research Foundation (UDRF). Gurdeep Bains's involvement in the study was made possibly by a BOYSCAST Fellowship from the Department of Science and Technology, India.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Delaware. The original article was written by Tracey Bryant. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Delaware. "Phragmites partners with microbes to plot native plants' demise." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223125135.htm>.
University of Delaware. (2009, December 28). Phragmites partners with microbes to plot native plants' demise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223125135.htm
University of Delaware. "Phragmites partners with microbes to plot native plants' demise." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223125135.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — California's record drought is hurting honey supplies and raising prices for consumers. The lack of rainfall means fewer crops and wildflowers that provide the nectar bees need to make honey. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins