Hot off the Press! Recently graduated UA SRP Trainee, Dr. Linnea Honeker has published part of her dissertation work in Microbial Ecology. Linnea’s research focused on analysis of the bacterial microbiome and its influence on plant health and metal stabilization in mine tailings undergoing phytostabilization. The major findings of this paper are described below:
Plant establishment during phytostabilization of acidic legacy mine tailings in semiarid regions is challenging due to low pH, low organic carbon, low nutrients, and high toxic metal(loid) concentrations. Plant-associated bacterial communities are particularly important under these harsh conditions because of their beneficial services to plants. The aim of this study was to identify associations between bacterial colonization patterns on the roots of plants growing as part of a phytostabilization field trial at the Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter Superfund site. Honeker combined use of 16S rRNA iTag bacterial community analysis of rhizosphere substrate populations with fluorescent in situ hybridization profiling of root surface bacteria to enable characterization of the bacterial taxa colonizing the root surface. The characterization of specific plant-microbe associations during phytostabilization provides cues for understanding plant survival in the extreme environment of metalliferous mine tailings. Honeker hopes this understanding can be exploited in the future to develop bacterial inoculum-based technologies that will help boost plant health under various suboptimal field conditions. Furthermore, Honeker points out that these associations provide insights for evaluating the success and establishment of plants during phytostabilization of metalliferous mine tailings.
Honeker LK, Neilson JW, Root RA, Gil-Loaiza J, Chorover J, Maier RM. 2017. Bacterial rhizoplane colonization patterns of Buchloe dactyloides growing in metalliferous mine tailings reflect plant status and biogeochemical conditions. Microbial Ecol. 2017 Jun 2. doi: 10.1007/s00248-017-0998-7. [Epub ahead of print]