Root-hair endophyte stacking in finger millet creates a physicochemical barrier to trap the fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum

Walaa K. Mousa, Charles Shearer, Victor Limay-Rios, Cassie L. Ettinger, Jonathan A Eisen, Manish N. Raizada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

The ancient African crop, finger millet, has broad resistance to pathogens including the toxigenic fungus Fusarium graminearum. Here, we report the discovery of a novel plant defence mechanism resulting from an unusual symbiosis between finger millet and a root-inhabiting bacterial endophyte, M6 (Enterobacter sp.). Seed-coated M6 swarms towards root-invading Fusarium and is associated with the growth of root hairs, which then bend parallel to the root axis, subsequently forming biofilm-mediated microcolonies, resulting in a remarkable, multilayer root-hair endophyte stack (RHESt). The RHESt results in a physical barrier that prevents entry and/or traps F. graminearum, which is then killed. M6 thus creates its own specialized killing microhabitat. Tn5-mutagenesis shows that M6 killing requires c-di-GMP-dependent signalling, diverse fungicides and resistance to a Fusarium-derived antibiotic. Further molecular evidence suggests long-term host-endophyte-pathogen co-evolution. The end result of this remarkable symbiosis is reduced deoxynivalenol mycotoxin, potentially benefiting millions of subsistence farmers and livestock. Further results suggest that the anti-Fusarium activity of M6 may be transferable to maize and wheat. RHESt demonstrates the value of exploring ancient, orphan crop microbiomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16167
JournalNature Microbiology
Volume1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 26 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics

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