Protecting soybean plants sustainably with beneficial bacteria

Today, agriculture relies on agrochemicals to fight pests, but their adverse environmental effects are of increasing concern. To combat this, Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez is researching Streptomyces bacteria in order to harness their power to protect soybean plants from pests in a greener way. View Halo Profile >>

Tell us about your research

Our research program is focused on crop yield improvement and disease control while recovering soil health. Microbiological control of plant diseases is based on the suppression of populations of plant pathogens by beneficial organisms. Streptomyces bacteria are part of the plant-associated microbiota that can colonize plant tissues, and they have shown biocontrol potential against fungal phytopathogens of different crop species like soybean, rice and other vegetables. In this context, we have selected particular Streptomyces species that induce a defense response that protects the soybean plants from further infection by different fungal pathogens. Understanding the mechanism underlying this protection will help to develop new technologies for the agriculture industry.

In this context, we have selected particular Streptomyces species that induce a defense response that protects the soybean plants from further infection by different fungal pathogens.

Can you explain that to a non-scientist?

Agrochemicals treatment is the main method for pest control in crop production, but it is affecting quality and contaminating our soils, air and water. New strategies using naturally plant-associated microorganisms are an alternative to control crop diseases, which will improve quality and avoid environmental pollution. We are studying microorganisms that already have been coexisting and working together with plants  to protect them against pathogens and exchange nutrients, which alleviates stress. These bacteria work like plant vaccines, allowing for better protection against pathogens infections and promoting plant growth.

Why did you choose this area of research? 

We are a working group made up of two labs developing a new biocontrol technology based on Streptomyces strains isolated from an agronomically important crop. Our group combines the microbiology expertise of soil bacteria like Streptomyces with the phytopathology and physiology of soybean crops in a multidisciplinary research. Our research focus is based on Food & Agriculture Organization recommendations for improvement of crops yield and quality necessary to supply the world’s food requirements in the future, but the main objective is caring for the environment and human/animal health. 

How could your Grants4Ag project someday impact #healthforall #hungerfornone? 

Resources like Grants4Ag will help us to identify and characterize these bacteria and its mechanisms of action on crop plants. This will allow us to develop new natural bioprotector products for crop production, reducing current agrochemical treatments to create a more environmentally-friendly pest control, which consequently improves food quality and quantity.

This will allow us to develop new natural bioprotector products for crop production, reducing current agrochemical treatments to create a more environmentally-friendly pest control, which consequently improves food quality and quantity.