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Horticultural hijacking: Researchers reveal the 'dark side' of beneficial soil bacteria

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t's a battleground down there—in the soil where plants and bacteria dwell.

Even though beneficial root bacteria come to the rescue when a plant is being attacked by pathogens, there's a dark side to the relationship between the plant and its white knight. According to research reported by a University of Delaware scientific team in the September online edition of Plant Physiology, the most highly cited plant journal, a power struggle ensues as the plant and the "good" bacteria vie over who will control the plant's immune system.

"For the brief period when the beneficial soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis is associated with the plant, the bacterium hijacks the plant's immune system," says Harsh Bais, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences, whose laboratory group led the research at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute.
 
 

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