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Role of Microbes in Plant Abiotic Stress: Focus on Drought and Salt Stress

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Plant Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2023) | Viewed by 6096

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Global climate change is a defining challenge of the 21st century and food security, and the 2020s need to usher ambitious action to mitigate the worst effects on human health, wealth, and well-being, and ecosystems. Specifically, drought and salinity—single and combined co-occurring or in sequence—are among the most important environmental factors that reduce the global productivity of major crops. The application of microbial formulations and/or microbial consortia has emerged as innovative technologies to reduce dependency on agrochemicals and are frequently used to mitigate various stresses. Plant-microbe interactions can play an essential role in developing crops with enhanced resistance and resilience to drought and salt stress conditions.

We encourage the submission of research articles that:

  • Provide novel insights into the functional potential of plant microbiota to address current challenges in crop production under drought and salinity.
  • Aim to decipher the mechanisms of microbes-mediated drought and salinity tolerance and understand the effects of and adaptation to drought and salt stress in agricultural and natural ecosystems (at the level of single cells, tissues and organs, or whole plants from in vitro to field research).
  • Provide tools or resources for engineering drought- and salt-resistant microbes that could potentially benefit the host plants and improve their adaption to various abiotic stresses.
  • Facilitate development of a microbial application for improved crops.

With this Special Issue of IJMS, we hope to highlight some of the most exciting new work that is revealing how plants respond to microbes (beneficial/harmful) and how microbes manipulate plant signaling pathways, and how microbe-microbe interactions influence plant growth, fitness, and productivity under drought and/or salinity stresses. We seek community submissions of primary research papers that present new data of special significance in plant–microbe interactions under drought and salinity stresses.

In particular, we welcome articles within (but not limited to) the following broad themes:

  • Agriculture, horticulture, and forestry
  • Molecular Plant Sciences
  • Climate change
  • Microbiology

Dr. Marouane Baslam
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • -omics
  • agro-stress management
  • drought
  • microorganisms
  • microbiomes
  • molecular mechanisms
  • salinity
  • signaling
  • stress responses
  • tolerance

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

21 pages, 3390 KiB  
Article
A Fine-Tuning of the Plant Hormones, Polyamines and Osmolytes by Ectomycorrhizal Fungi Enhances Drought Tolerance in Pedunculate Oak
by Marko Kebert, Saša Kostić, Srđan Stojnić, Eleonora Čapelja, Anđelina Gavranović Markić, Martina Zorić, Lazar Kesić and Victor Flors
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023, 24(8), 7510; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms24087510 - 19 Apr 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1561
Abstract
The drought sensitivity of the pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) poses a threat to its survival in light of climate change. Mycorrhizal fungi, which orchestrate biogeochemical cycles and particularly have an impact on the plant’s defense mechanisms and metabolism of carbon, nitrogen, [...] Read more.
The drought sensitivity of the pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) poses a threat to its survival in light of climate change. Mycorrhizal fungi, which orchestrate biogeochemical cycles and particularly have an impact on the plant’s defense mechanisms and metabolism of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, are among the microbes that play a significant role in the mitigation of the effects of climate change on trees. The study’s main objectives were to determine whether ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi alleviate the effects of drought stress in pedunculate oak and to investigate their priming properties. The effects of two levels of drought (mild and severe, corresponding to 60% and 30% of field capacity, respectively) on the biochemical response of pedunculate oak were examined in the presence and absence of ectomycorrhizal fungi. To examine whether the ectomycorrhizal fungi modulate the drought tolerance of pedunculate oak, levels of plant hormones and polyamines were quantified using UPLC-TQS and HPLC-FD techniques in addition to gas exchange measurements and the main osmolyte amounts (glycine betaine-GB and proline-PRO) which were determined spectrophotometrically. Droughts increased the accumulation of osmolytes, such as proline and glycine betaine, as well as higher polyamines (spermidine and spermine) levels and decreased putrescine levels in both, mycorrhized and non-mycorrhized oak seedlings. In addition to amplifying the response of oak to severe drought in terms of inducible proline and abscisic acid (ABA) levels, inoculation with ECM fungi significantly increased the constitutive levels of glycine betaine, spermine, and spermidine regardless of drought stress. This study found that compared to non-mycorrhized oak seedlings, unstressed ECM-inoculated oak seedlings had higher levels of salicylic (SA) and abscisic acid (ABA) but not jasmonic acid (JA), indicating a priming mechanism of ECM is conveyed via these plant hormones. According to a PCA analysis, the effect of drought was linked to the variability of parameters along the PC1 axe, such as osmolytes PRO, GB, polyamines, and plant hormones such as JA, JA-Ile, SAG, and SGE, whereas mycorrhization was more closely associated with the parameters gathered around the PC2 axe (SA, ODPA, ABA, and E). These findings highlight the beneficial function of the ectomycorrhizal fungi, in particular Scleroderma citrinum, in reducing the effects of drought stress in pedunculate oak. Full article
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23 pages, 4424 KiB  
Article
Characterization of the Seed Biopriming, Plant Growth-Promoting and Salinity-Ameliorating Potential of Halophilic Fungi Isolated from Hypersaline Habitats
by Muhammad Aizaz, Waqar Ahmad, Sajjad Asaf, Ibrahim Khan, Syed Saad Jan, Safiya Salim Alamri, Saqib Bilal, Rahmatullah Jan, Kyung-Min Kim and Ahmed Al-Harrasi
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2023, 24(5), 4904; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms24054904 - 03 Mar 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2314
Abstract
Salinity stress is one of the major abiotic factors limiting crop yield in arid and semi-arid regions. Plant growth-promoting fungi can help plants thrive in stressful conditions. In this study, we isolated and characterized 26 halophilic fungi (endophytic, rhizospheric, and soil) from the [...] Read more.
Salinity stress is one of the major abiotic factors limiting crop yield in arid and semi-arid regions. Plant growth-promoting fungi can help plants thrive in stressful conditions. In this study, we isolated and characterized 26 halophilic fungi (endophytic, rhizospheric, and soil) from the coastal region of Muscat, Oman, for plant growth-promoting activities. About 16 out of 26 fungi were found to produce IAA, and about 11 isolates (MGRF1, MGRF2, GREF1, GREF2, TQRF4, TQRF5, TQRF5, TQRF6, TQRF7, TQRF8, TQRF2) out of 26 strains were found to significantly improve seed germination and seedling growth of wheat. To evaluate the effect of the above-selected strains on salt tolerance in wheat, we grew wheat seedlings in 150 mM, 300 mM NaCl and SW (100% seawater) treatments and inoculated them with the above strains. Our findings showed that fungal strains MGRF1, MGRF2, GREF2, and TQRF9 alleviate 150 mM salt stress and increase shoot length compared to their respective control plants. However, in 300 mM stressed plants, GREF1 and TQRF9 were observed to improve shoot length. Two strains, GREF2 and TQRF8, also promoted plant growth and reduced salt stress in SW-treated plants. Like shoot length, an analogous pattern was observed in root length, and different salt stressors such as 150 mM, 300 mM, and SW reduced root length by up to 4%, 7.5%, and 19.5%, respectively. Three strains, GREF1, TQRF7, and MGRF1, had higher catalase (CAT) levels, and similar results were observed in polyphenol oxidase (PPO), and GREF1 inoculation dramatically raised the PPO level in 150 mM salt stress. The fungal strains had varying effects, with some, such as GREF1, GREF2, and TQRF9, showing a significant increase in protein content as compared to their respective control plants. Under salinity stress, the expression of DREB2 and DREB6 genes was reduced. However, the WDREB2 gene, on the other hand, was shown to be highly elevated during salt stress conditions, whereas the opposite was observed in inoculated plants. Full article
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16 pages, 2969 KiB  
Article
Symbiotic System Establishment between Piriformospora indica and Glycine max and Its Effects on the Antioxidant Activity and Ion-Transporter-Related Gene Expression in Soybean under Salt Stress
by Depeng Zhang, Xinsheng Wang, Zhenyue Zhang, Chunxin Li, Yimei Xing, Yaqin Luo, Donghuan Li, Zhiyun Ma and Hua Cai
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23(23), 14961; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms232314961 - 29 Nov 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1495
Abstract
The utilization of symbiosis with beneficial microorganisms has considerable potential for increasing growth and resistance under abiotic stress. The endophytic root fungus Piriformospora indica has been shown to improve plant growth under salt and drought stress in diverse plant species, while there have [...] Read more.
The utilization of symbiosis with beneficial microorganisms has considerable potential for increasing growth and resistance under abiotic stress. The endophytic root fungus Piriformospora indica has been shown to improve plant growth under salt and drought stress in diverse plant species, while there have been few reports of the interaction of P. indica with soybean under salt stress. In this study, the symbiotic system of P. indica and soybean (Glycine max L.) was established, and the effect of P. indica on soybean growth and salt tolerance was investigated. The colonized and non-colonized soybeans were subjected to salt stress (200 mmol/L NaCl), and the impairments in chlorophyll and increasing relative conductivity that can be caused by salt stress were alleviated in the P. indica-colonized plants. The accumulation of malondialdehyde (MDA), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and superoxide anion (O2) were lower than that in non-colonized plants under salt treatment, whereas the activities of antioxidant enzymes were significantly increased by P. indica colonization, including superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione reductase (GR). Importantly, without salt treatment, the Na+ concentration was lower, and the K+ concentration was higher in the roots compared with non-colonized plants. Differential expressions of ion transporter genes were found in soybean roots after P. indica colonization. The P. indica colonization positively regulated the transcription level of PM H+-ATPase, SOS1, and SOS2. The study shows that P. indica enhances the growth and salt tolerance of soybean, providing a strategy for the agricultural production of soybean plants in saline-alkali soils. Full article
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