Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute
(JGI) and University of North Carolina (UNC) developed a catalog of
bacterial genomes to help other researchers identify and characterize
candidate genes that aid bacteria in thriving in plant environments,
especially those involved in bacterial root colonization.
"If we want to engineer the right microbiome to support plant growth, we
need to understand the real function of the microbiome and not just sequence
marker genes," said study co-first author Asaf Levy, a research scientist at
the JGI. "Here we used a massive genomic and computational effort to address
the fundamental and important question: 'How does the plant microbiome
interact with the plant?'"
Scientists from various institutions have previously isolated novel
bacterial from root environment of Brassicaceae (191), poplar trees (135),
and maize (51). The genomes of these 377 bacterial isolates, plus an
additional 107 single bacterial cells from roots of Arabidopsis, were then
sequenced, assembled, and annotated at the JGI. Then the JGI and UNC
researchers combined the new genomes with publicly available genomes that
represent the major types of plant-linked bacteria as well as those from
non-plant environments. The combined data led to the formation of the
database with 3,887 genomes, wherein 1,160 were from plants.