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Investigating the three-dimensional structure of symbiotic communities around plant roots


by Arne Claussen, Heinrich-Heine University Duesseldorf
Animals and plants form complex symbiotic communities with microorganisms, the so-called microbiome. A research team from Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ) in Cologne has now investigated the three-dimensional microbiota structure around plant roots.

In an article published in Cell Host & Microbe, they report that microbial community composition varies along the root and that this is influenced by the root spatial metabolism.

People are colonized by a large number of beneficial organisms. In the intestine in particular, the so-called gut microflora play an important role in human health. Such a phenomenon is also seen in plants—they also possess "microbiota": Microorganisms that help make nutrients in the soil available and defend the plant against pathogens.

The human intestine comprises different segments and each of these segments has a specific function. About 10 years ago, molecular investigation revealed that the segments of the guts have specific stem cells and different metabolic activities.

The various physiological and genetic differences in the intestine result in differential microorganism colonization in each segment of the intestine. It is now known that the gut microbiota have a highly complex three-dimensional biogeography.

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