How sugar transporters organize the microbiota colonization in roots


CEPLAS postdoctoral researcher Eliza Loo (HHU) identified together with a research team three SWEET sugar transporters.

Two plant growth systems developed for the study of root microbiota. On the left, CD-Rhizotron where plants grow on soil, and on the right, ArtSoil where plants grow on agar-matrix with soil-like properties.
Eliza Loo

The work is the result of a collaborative effort of several CEPLAS members and institutions: Paloma Dúran, Wolf Frommer, Martin Lercher, Eliza Loo, Philipp Westhoff (all HHU) and Ruben Garrido-Oter (MPIPZ).

Biological processes happen in a three-dimensional (3D spatial) context. Spatial gradients of physical and chemical properties, and how cells are organized spatially influence their properties and functions. In this work, we were interested in understanding whether bacterial communities are spatially organized along the longitudinal axis of plant roots. We developed two plant growth systems that were used to demonstrate the existence of bacterial niches and metabolites along the root of Arabidopsis. By comparing microbial and metabolic compositions between different regions of the root, we show that sugar plays an important role in the colonization patterns of bacterial niches along the root. Using bioinformatics and genetics, we identified three SWEET sugar transporters that contribute to the distribution of sugar (and other metabolites) along the root, which is required for the spatial colonization of root bacteria.