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Time-resolution of the shoot and root growth of the model cereal Brachypodium in response to inoculation with Azospirillum bacteria at low phosphorus and temperature

journal contribution
posted on 2020-12-03, 05:57 authored by M Schillaci, B Arsova, R Walker, Penelope SmithPenelope Smith, KA Nagel, U Roessner, M Watt
© 2020, The Author(s). A non-invasive plant phenotyping platform, GrowScreen-PaGe, was used to resolve the dynamics of shoot and root growth of the model cereal Brachypodium (Brachypodium distachyon Bd21-3) in response to the plant growth promoting (PGP) bacteria Azospirillum (Azospirillum brasilense Sp245). Inoculated Brachypodium plants had greater early vigor and higher P use efficiency than non-inoculated Brachypodium at low P and low temperature conditions. Root systems were imaged non-invasively at eight time points and data combined with leaf area, shoot biomass and nutrient content from destructive subsamples at 7, 14 and 21 days after inoculation (DAI). Azospirillum colonisation of roots improved Brachypodium shoot and, to a greater degree, root growth in three independent experiments. Inoculation promoted P use efficiency in shoots but not P concentration or uptake, despite increased total root length. Longer roots in inoculated plants arose from twofold faster branch root growth but slower axile root growth, detected at 11 DAI. Analysis of the spatio-temporal phenotypes indicated that the effects of Azospirillum inoculation increased as shoot P concentration declined, but the magnitude depended on the time after inoculation and growth rate of branch roots compared to axile roots. High throughput plant phenotyping platforms allow the details of plant-microorganism symbioses to be resolved, offering insights into the timing of changes in different tissues to allow molecular mechanisms to be determined.


Martino Schillaci is grateful for fnancial support from a University of Melbourne Research Scholarship provided through the Juelich Melbourne Postgraduate Academy (JUMPA). Michelle Watt holds the Adrienne Clarke Chair of Botany which is supported through the University of Melbourne Botany Foundation. Kerstin Nagel and Borjana Arsova acknowledge the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.



  • School of Life Sciences

Publication Date



Plant Growth Regulation


14p. (p. 1-14)


Springer Nature



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