The unique microbiome of the oil-cane plant could contribute to the development of sustainable biofuels

Researchers at the US Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproduct Innovation have identified the types of microbes that are associated with an engineered variety of oilcane, a species of sugarcane plant that produces oils for biofuels.

Just press release According to the center – published on the tenth of May, each cultivar of the modified plants has a distinct microbiome from that of the unmodified plant, indicating the effect of metabolic differences on the diversity of the microbial environment of the modified plants.

The oil cane plant is an oily fodder similar to sugar cane, but it produces oils for biofuel (Shutterstock)

The importance of microbiome management

The microbiome is all the microorganisms present in an environment. In this context, the microbiome refers to the complex collection of microorganisms that live in the soil and interact with the plant, influencing its growth, health and vital functions.

Plant microbiomes can vary greatly depending on plant species, environmental conditions, and other factors. The microbiome has been shown to have a major role in influencing plant health and disease resistance. Understanding the interrelationship between plant and microbiome is important for improving crop productivity and sustainability.

One way researchers are looking to improve crops is to manage the microbiome, and understanding the interactions between plants and the microorganisms that live on and within it may help us develop agricultural management practices that can increase crop productivity and resilience.

The microbiome is all the microorganisms in an environment (Shutterstock)

Exploring differences in microbiome structure

In terms of biomass, sugarcane is the most productive crop in the world, and it’s not hard to see why; Its crop provides raw materials for 26% of the world’s bioethanol, and 80% of global sugar production.

While the sugarcane microbiome has been studied extensively, the oilcane microbiome was uncharted territory for the researchers, which is why they explored differences in microbiome structure between several wild-type oilcane and sugarcane plants.

Results showed the study – which was published in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels and Bioproducts – energy-dense triacylglycerol accumulates 30 to 400 times more in oil cane plants than in wild sugar cane, making it an ideal crop for biofuel production.

By studying this raw material that converts natural sugars into oil, researchers can provide sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. The researchers hypothesize that the association of oil cane with certain soil microbes may benefit the plant in some way.

Oil cane is an ideal crop for biofuel production (Shutterstock)

Unlocking the secrets of the oil cane plant microbiome

The researchers examined the microbiomes of four different oil-cane plants, and compared them to the microbiomes of the unaltered sugarcane plant. The team grew all the plants in the same soil, and once they had grown they took microbial samples from leaves, stems, roots, root soil and loose soil.

Using genetic sequencing and cutting-edge bioinformatics tools; The team found that each strain of oil cane had different microbiomes than unaltered sugar cane.

This study demonstrated that oil cane plants are different in their gene expression and associated with distinct microbiomes, suggesting that metabolic differences in oil cane (compared to sugar cane) play an important role in determining the composition of the plant microbiome.

Further exploration of the microbiome of the oilseed plant reveals opportunities to benefit from plant-microbial interactions, and understanding these plant-microbe interactions may help improve the oilseed plant; Which may increase its yield of oils used in sustainable bioenergy systems.

Further research may also lead to a specific microbiome that could enhance the agricultural performance and yield of the modified oil-cane plant, and the team hopes to direct more research toward understanding how unique microbiomes interact with host plants.

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