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Research article2014Peer reviewedOpen access

Drought-Tolerance of Wheat Improved by Rhizosphere Bacteria from Harsh Environments: Enhanced Biomass Production and Reduced Emissions of Stress Volatiles

Timmusk, Salme; Abd El-Daim, Islam Ahmed Moustafa; Copolovici, Lucian; Tanilas, Triin; Kännaste, Astrid; Behers, Lawrence; Nevo, Eviatar; Seisenbaeva, Gulaim; Stenström, Elna; Niinemets, Ülo


Water is the key resource limiting world agricultural production. Although an impressive number of research reports have been published on plant drought tolerance enhancement via genetic modifications during the last few years, progress has been slower than expected. We suggest a feasible alternative strategy by application of rhizospheric bacteria coevolved with plant roots in harsh environments over millions of years, and harboring adaptive traits improving plant fitness under biotic and abiotic stresses. We show the effect of bacterial priming on wheat drought stress tolerance enhancement, resulting in up to 78% greater plant biomass and five-fold higher survivorship under severe drought. We monitored emissions of seven stress-related volatiles from bacterially-primed drought-stressed wheat seedlings, and demonstrated that three of these volatiles are likely promising candidates for a rapid non-invasive technique to assess crop drought stress and its mitigation in early phases of stress development. We conclude that gauging stress by elicited volatiles provides an effectual platform for rapid screening of potent bacterial strains and that priming with isolates of rhizospheric bacteria from harsh environments is a promising, novel way to improve plant water use efficiency. These new advancements importantly contribute towards solving food security issues in changing climates.

Published in

2014, Volume: 9, number: 5, article number: e96086

      SLU Authors

        • Seisenbaeva, Gulaim

          • The Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
        • Associated SLU-program

          SLU Plant Protection Network

          Sustainable Development Goals

          Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
          End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

          UKÄ Subject classification

          Physical Chemistry
          Inorganic Chemistry

          Publication identifier


          Permanent link to this page (URI)