Millet endophyte protects against fungus

Interesting relationship between millet, an endophyte and a pathogenic fungus

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In this very neat paper in Nature Microbiology1 Mousa et al. unveil a very interesting relationship between millet, an Enterobacter endophyte and the pathogenic fungus Fusarium graminearum.

The endophyte lives in the roots of millet and is associated with the root hairs. The endophyte swarms towards invading fungus, and the root hairs are induced, seemingly by an endophyte biofilm, to grow parallel to the axis of the root and form a “root-hair endophyte stack”, with alternating layers of endophyte and root hair. This forms a barrier that traps fungus, and a “killing microenvironment” in which the endophyte secretes antimicrobial agents.

Interestingly, the authors show preliminary evidence that this endophyte can some protection against the fungus in wheat and maize.

1. Mousa, W. K. et al. Root-hair endophyte stacking in finger millet creates a physicochemical barrier to trap the fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum. Nature Microbiology (2016).

Nicolas Fanget

Associate Editor, Springer Nature

I am a microbiologist by training, but I manage a portfolio of varied journals. The ones most relevant to this Community are npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, npj Clean Water, npj Science of Food, npj Systems Biology and Applications and npj Vaccines. Full list of my journals in my LinkedIn profile.