Protection of pepper plants from drought by Microbacterium sp. 3J1 by modulation of the plant's glutamine and α-ketoglutarate content: A comparative metabolomics approach
Vílchez, Juan I.
Dowling, David N.
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Drought tolerance of plants such as tomato or pepper can be improved by their inoculation with rhizobacteria such as Microbacterium sp. 3J1. This interaction depends on the production of trehalose by the microorganisms that in turn modulate the phyto-hormone profile of the plant. In this work we describe the characterization of metabolic changes during the interaction of pepper plants with Microbacterium sp. 3J1 and of the microorganism alone over a period of drought. Our main findings include the observation that the plant responds to the presence of the microorganism by changing the C and N metabolism based on its glutamine and α-ketoglutarate content, these changes contribute to major changes in the concentration of molecules involved in the balance of the osmotic pressure. These include sugars and amino-acids; the concentration of antioxidant molecules, of metabolites involved in the production of phytohormones like ethylene, and of substrates used for lignin production such as ferulic and sinapic acids. Most of the altered metabolites of the plant when inoculated with Microbacterium sp. 3J1 in response to drought coincided with the profile of altered metabolites in the microorganism alone when subjected to drought, pointing to a response by which the plant relies on the microbe for the production of such metabolites. To our knowledge this is the first comparative study of the microbe colonized-plant and microbe alone metabolomes under drought stress.
- Life Sciences ITC 
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