If you have read our post about being in sync with your microbes, you are well aware of 'microbiomes', the role they play in our lives and how unique they are to us. Researchers at the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon, have now found that just like us, plants, too, have microbiomes!
Plant leaves, especially, are home to millions and millions of bacteria. Using modern sequencing technology, researchers mass sequenced the multitude of bacteria found there and identified these bacteria using unique sequences called 'barcodes'. While there were some microbes that were found on most plants, there were also some that were unique or rarely found.
The role of all the bacteria is not well understood but these microbes could be responsible for helping plants evade pathogenic infections or even help in faster growth. Certain bacteria were also found is certain areas where the air composition was markedly different, thereby showing that plants are working with microbes to make their environs more suitable for surviving.
While the data reveals very little information as of now, such studies will help in the long run to help conserve certain plants and their eco-systems!
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Kembel, S., O'Connor, T., Arnold, H., Hubbell, S., Wright, S., & Green, J. (2014). Relationships between phyllosphere bacterial communities and plant functional traits in a neotropical forest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111 (38), 13715-13720 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1216057111