Lanthanide involved in plant-microbe interaction

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Methanol emitted from plants is one of the nutrients for symbiotic bacteria. These symbionts play important roles for healthy plant growth. Methanol dehydrogenase that the methanol-utilizing bacteria commonly possess has been known to be dependent on calcium, but the role of another type of similar enzyme has been unclear. Recently, the enzyme in plant-growth promoting Methylobacterium species was revealed to be a lanthanide-dependent enzyme, which is the first example for involvement of lanthanides in biological reactions.

Lanthanides are contained in the soil, but considered not important for any kind of organisms. The enzyme gene is encoded in many bacterial genomes, suggesting that methanol-utilizing bacteria are present more than our envision, and that lanthanide may be an important factor for plant-microbe interaction.

On the other hand, it has now been possible to analyze the symbiotic interaction, regarding them as superoganisms. The RhizoMicroBiome team in the institute aims to reveal the network and dynamics of the interaction in barley and rice grown in the agricultural field.