Unlocking the Citrus Microbiome

Ernie NeffResearch

citrus microbiome

Yunzheng Zhang, Nian Wang and colleagues recently published an article, The Citrus Microbiome: From Structure and Function to Microbiome Engineering and Beyond, in the Phytobiomes Journal. It outlines the structure and potential functions of the plant microbiome​. It explains how this knowledge can lead to new engineering feats and a greater understanding of the plant microbiome. Insights into the microbiome may help researchers grow more resilient plants that are both more suitable for changing climates and more capable of surviving pathogen pressures. 

Wang is a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher. Zhang is a professor at Yangzhou University in China. 

Wang said he believes that “harnessing citrus-microbiome interactions to address biotic and abiotic stressors offers an opportunity to increase sustainable citrus production.”

At this point, researchers only know which microbes are present in some of the plant tissue, meaning there is still a significant amount of research to be done to unlock the hidden treasures within the microbiome.

“I think artificial intelligence will be critical for us to mine a humongous amount of data,” Wang said. “Regarding how to utilize the microbiome, I think synthetic community or consortia of microbes, as well as CRISPR-mediated genome editing, will provide the most promising path for the application.”

“Overall, previous studies have provided valuable knowledge of the citrus microbiome, including taxonomic composition and functional potential across compartments, locations and different disease conditions,” Wang, Zhang and the other authors wrote. “However, utilization of the citrus microbiome remains in its infancy. In the long run, to improve citrus production and health via microbiome engineering, we need to attain a systems-level understanding of citrus microbiome.”

The article said the plant microbiome is composed of different microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, protists, archaea and viruses, which live externally on or internally in their host plants.

Source: American Phytopathological Society


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