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Tropical plants beat drought by interacting with specific microbes, study shows


by Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory
Plant-soil-microbe interactions play a crucial role in processes that take place in the soil directly around plant roots, or the rhizosphere, and these processes contribute to nutrient cycling and metabolite turnover in the environment. Amid the water scarcity that occurs with climate change, plants are forced to adapt through a range of processes that impact soil organic matter turnover in the rhizosphere.

To further understand how these plant processes influence soil organic matter turnover, a multi-institutional team of researchers examined how three tropical plants, specifically Piper auritum, Hibiscus rosa sinensis, and Clitoria fairchildiana, interact with the microbes in the rhizosphere during drought.

The team used advanced analytical techniques to see how these interactions affect the breakdown of organic matter in the soil. Surprisingly, they found that the response of plant roots to drought, rather than to changes in the microbial community, predominantly shapes the chemistry in the soil.

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