A dynamic rhizosphere interplay between tree roots and soil bacteria under drought stress

Yaara Oppenheimer-Shaanan, Gilad Jakoby, Maya Laurencia Starr, Romiel Karliner, Gal Eilon, Maxim Itkin, Sergey Malitsky, Tamir Klein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


• Root exudates are thought to play an important role in plant-microbial interactions. In return for nutrition, soil bacteria can increase the bioavailability of soil nutrients. However, root exudates typically decrease in situations such as drought, calling into question the efficacy of solvation and bacteria-dependent mineral uptake in such stress. • Here we tested the hypothesis of exudate-driven microbial priming on Cupressus saplings grown in forest soil in custom-made rhizotron boxes. A 1-month imposed drought and concomitant inoculations with a mix of Bacillus subtilis and Pseudomonas stutzeri, bacteria species isolated from the forest soil, were applied using factorial design. • Direct bacteria counts and visualization by confocal microscopy showed that both bacteria associated with Cupressus roots. Interestingly, root exudation rates increased 2.3-fold with bacteria under drought, as well as irrigation. Forty four metabolites in exudates were significantly different in concentration between irrigated and drought trees, including phenolic acid compounds and quinate. When adding these metabolites as carbon and nitrogen sources to bacterial cultures of both bacterial species, 8 of 9 metabolites stimulated bacterial growth. Importantly, soil phosphorous bioavailability was maintained only in inoculated trees, mitigating drought-induced decrease in leaf phosphorus and iron. • Our observations of increased root exudation rate when drought and inoculation regimes were combined, support the idea of root recruitment of beneficial bacteria, especially under water stress.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere79679
StatePublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, eLife Sciences Publications Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Drought
  • leaf elements
  • metabolomics
  • microbial priming
  • root exudation


Dive into the research topics of 'A dynamic rhizosphere interplay between tree roots and soil bacteria under drought stress'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this