Corn and Its Interactions with Bacterial Communities

Part of the Microorganisms for Sustainability book series (MICRO, volume 2)


Corn (maize) hosts a huge array of microbial communities in its root zone (rhizosphere) as well as inside the plant, as endophytes. It is assumed that the most intimate interactions impacting both the host and the microbes occur inside the plant tissues. The microorganism communities associated with corn are now well characterized, and many of their biological functions that impact the plant have been identified, as have factors that modulate the induction and extent of the plants’ responses. This review focuses on the impacts that endophytic bacteria have on corn plants and how they may be utilized to maximize crop health and yield. The source of corn endophytes, how they develop and establish inside the plant tissues and seeds, and the biological functions they possess that impact plant growth are discussed. We focus on key functions such as nitrogen fixation by diazotrophic microbes, plant growth promotion via synthesis of hormones, and production of antibiotics that protect plants against both pests and diseases. The influences of transgenes on the corn microbial communities are identified as well as how soil characteristics, agronomic practices, and environmental factors impact the relationship of the corn-microbe interactions. Recent advances in the use of remote sensing technology in corn microbial research are introduced and discussed as to how it can be used to better identify the role of microorganism in crop health and productivity.



We are greatly thankful to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, through the Agricultural Innovation Program, Grain Farmers of Ontario and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council through Industrial Fellowships, IRAP, NSERC Engage, Ontario Genomics, and Ontario Centres of Excellence for their financial support. We are also thankful to the Ontario Corn Growers who were involved in the study program and allowed us to collect the samples from their farm. We greatly appreciate the A&L Canada Laboratories Inc., students, and the staff members who contributed their time, knowledge, and skills for this innovative work.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.A&L BiologicalsAgroecological Research Services CentreLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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