Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Seed treatment with plant-defense elicitors decreases the abundance of ammonia oxidizers associated with winter wheat roots

Saghai, Aurelien; Almen, Elin; Hallin, Sara; Glinwood, Robert


Priming with elicitors, including phytohormones, is known to induce physiological changes in plants that affect resource allocation and nutrient uptake strategies. However, effects of these changes on belowground microbial communities, particularly those involved in nitrogen (N) transformations, remain poorly characterized. Here, we tested the hypothesis that treating seeds with elicitors would affect N-transforming communities associated to roots and rhizosphere, influencing soil N availability and thus plant performance. We measured the effects of treating winter wheat seeds with cis-jasmone, methyl jasmonate or methyl salicylate on plant traits and on the genetic potential for ammonia oxidation by ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and archaea (AOA), the initial inorganic N transformation process resulting in N loss. Elicitors reduced the genetic potential for ammonia oxidation by AOB in root-associated microbial communities and increased traits reflecting N uptake in winter wheat. Proposed mechanisms include increased exploitative competition for ammonium, limiting substrate availability for microorganisms, and induced biological nitrification inhibition capacity actively suppressing ammonia oxidizers. There were minor effects on the composition of the AOB and AOA communities, but an indicator species analysis showed that several AOB and a few AOA genotypes were indicative of elicitor treatments. Seed treatment with elicitors may represent an overlooked strategy to minimize nitrification to mitigate N losses from arable soils.


Cis-jasmone; Methyl jasmonate; Methyl salicylate; Nitrification inhibition; Nitrogen; Plant traits

Published in

Soil Biology and Biochemistry
2023, Volume: 180, article number: 109016