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Scientist working in a laboratory and plants

Small molecules below‐ground: the role of specialized metabolites in the rhizosphere

Soil communities are diverse taxonomically and functionally. This ecosystem experiences highly complex networks of interactions, but may also present functionally independent entities

Scientist working in a laboratory and plants

Scientist in laboratory examinates samples and chemical fluids.

Authors:
Massalha, H; Korenblum, E; Tholl, D; Aharoni, A

Abstract:
Soil communities are diverse taxonomically and functionally. This ecosystem experiences highly complex networks of interactions, but may also present functionally independent entities. Plant roots, a metabolically active hotspot in the soil, take an essential part in below‐ground interactions. While plants are known to release an extremely high portion of the fixated carbon to the soil, less information is known about the composition and role of C‐containing compounds in the rhizosphere, in particular those involved in chemical communication. Specialized metabolites (or secondary metabolites) produced by plants and their associated microbes have a critical role in various biological activities that modulate the behavior of neighboring organisms. Thus, elucidating the chemical composition and function of specialized metabolites in the rhizosphere is a key element in understanding interactions in this below‐ground environment. Here, we review key classes of specialized metabolites that occur as mostly non‐volatile compounds in root exudates or are emitted as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The role of these metabolites in below‐ground interactions and response to nutrient deficiency, as well as their tissue and cell type‐specific biosynthesis and release are discussed in detail.

Full Article

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