The role of root exudates in mediating plant–microbe interactions has been well documented. However, the function of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by plant roots has only recently begun to attract attention. This newly recognized relevance of belowground VOCs has so far mostly been tested using systems limited to a two-compartment Petri-dish design. Furthermore, many of the plant–microbe interaction studies have only investigated the effects of microbial VOCs on plant growth. Here, we go two steps further. First we investigated the volatile profile of healthy and pathogen (Fusarium oxysporum) infected tomato roots grown in soil. We then used a unique soil-based olfactometer-choice assay to compare the migration pattern of four beneficial bacteria (Bacillus spp.) towards the roots of the tomato plants. We demonstrate that the blend of root-emitted VOCs differs between healthy and diseased plants. Our results show that VOCs are involved in attracting bacteria to plant roots.
Gulati, S., Ballhausen, M-B., Kulkarni, P., Grosch, R., & Garbeva, P. (2020). A non-invasive soil based setup to study tomato root volatiles released by healthy and infected roots. Scientific Reports, 10, . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69468-z