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Plant and Soil

, Volume 367, Issue 1–2, pp 605–614 | Cite as

A soil-free root observation system for the study of root-microorganism interactions in maize

  • Chantal Planchamp
  • Dirk Balmer
  • Andreas Hund
  • Brigitte Mauch-Mani
Regular Article

Abstract

Background and aims

The root surface of a plant usually exceeds the leaf area and is constantly exposed to a variety of soil-borne microorganisms. Root pathogens and pests, as well as belowground interactions with beneficial microbes, can significantly influence a plants' performance. Unfortunately, the analysis of these interactions is often limited because of the arduous task of accessing roots growing in soil. Here, we present a soil-free root observation system (SF-ROBS) designed to grow maize (Zea mays) plants and to study root interactions with either beneficial or pathogenic microbes.

Methods

The SF-ROBS consists of pouches lined with wet filter paper supplying nutrient solution.

Results

The aspect of maize grown in the SF-ROBS was similar to soil-grown maize; the plant growth was similar for the shoot but different for the roots (biomass and length increased in the SF-ROBS). SF-ROBS-grown roots were successfully inoculated with the hemi-biotrophic maize fungal pathogen Colletotrichum graminicola and the beneficial rhizobacteria Pseudomonas putida KT2440. Thus, the SF-ROBS is a system suitable to study two major belowground phenomena, namely root fungal defense reactions and interactions of roots with beneficial soil-borne bacteria.

Conclusions

This system contributes to a better understanding of belowground plant microbe interactions in maize and most likely also in other crops.

Keywords

Corn Zea mays Root infection Pathogen Rhizobacteria Colletotrichum graminicola Pseudomonas putida 

Abbreviations

SF-ROBS

soil-free root observation system

PE

polyethylene

MNS

maize nutrient solution

GFP

green fluorescent protein

dpi

day(s) post infection

LB

Luria-Bertani

CFU

colony-forming unit(s)

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Natacha Fleury and Daniela Villacres de Papajewski for their technical help, Christophe Weider (Syngenta Crop Protection) for technical advices and Felix Mauch for critical reading of the manuscript. Partial funding of this project by the National Center of competence in Research, Plant Survival, is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

Esm 1

(MPG 76116 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chantal Planchamp
    • 1
  • Dirk Balmer
    • 1
  • Andreas Hund
    • 2
    • 3
  • Brigitte Mauch-Mani
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Molecular and Cell BiologyUniversity of NeuchâtelNeuchâtelSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute of Plant ScienceETH ZürichZürichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Institute of Agricultural SciencesETH ZürichZürichSwitzerland

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