Soil Underneath Reveals Hidden World of Communication and Chemical Warfare

Soil underneath reveals hidden world of communication and chemical warfare. Billions of bacteria and fungi attempt for space and food. Most of them are unobjectionable and many are important to generate healthy soil. But farmers are anxious about few species that are the reason for catastrophic crop diseases and farming and they often follow chemical pesticides to retain pathogens in check.

Recent research has shown how these detrimental microbes have to face not just with chemical attacks but also with their microscopic neighbors and themselves turning to chemical warfare to lay off menace. University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology Nancy Keller has been inspecting the unseen domain of soil pathogens for years, hearing the chemical signals they propel to and fro to one another. Her work encompasses decoding the signals. When the bacterial wilt species Ralstonia solanacearum attempts to contaminate the fungal pathogen Fusarium fujikuroi, the fungus reacts with plethora of antibacterial compounds to maintain the distance from the invader.

This research highlights minute effort to throw light upon enigmatic microbial communities beneath our feet. Like they are proceeding with animal microbiome, researchers are attempting to expose which microbes remain in the soil, how they are communicating with the outside world and what is the meaning of those signals. A deeper comprehension of opulent communities will aid the scientists answer to pertinacious menaces crops face from these microbes.

The work is published May 22 in the journal mBio. Keller collaborated with researchers at Cornell University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Germany.

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