Plant volatiles serve as airborne semiochemicals, bridging the interactions between the plant and environment. Intercropping of a Chinese medicinal herb, Atractylodes lancea, with peanut plants greatly improves peanut growth, leading to a reduction of soil-borne disease. The underlying mechanism of peanut responding to the intercropped A. lancea is unknown. We here explored the response of the above- and belowground peanut parts to volatiles produced by the aboveground parts of A. lancea.
Closed cultivation system was used. Composition of volatiles released by A. lancea plant was first determined using headspace solid phase microextraction–gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (SPME-GC-MS). Then, physiological responses of peanut were explored via enzymes activity assay and root secretions. Changes in the peanut rhizosphere fungal and bacterial communities were analyzed by Illumina sequencing.
The intercropped A. lancea volatiles induced a physiological response in peanut, which includes the increased catalase and phenylalanine ammonia lyase activity in peanut leaf, and improvement of peanut growth. Secretion of organic acids by the peanut root was increased in response to volatile treatment. Pyrosequencing of the whole internal transcribed spacer and 16S rRNA amplicons revealed significant differences in microbial diversity and composition in peanut rhizosphere upon volatile treatment.
In the intercropping, A. lancea volatiles play a key role in influencing the growth of a neighbouring peanut plant, e.g., increasing biomass and affecting root colonization by soil microorganisms, which may increase plant protection against pathogens. Intercropping patterns could be designed accordingly to increase crop performance.
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We thank Prof. Wietse de Boer at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) for help during the preparation of the manuscript, and colleagues from our research group (others than the authors) for assistance in conducting the field experiments. This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41671306, 41371290); the Excellent Youth Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK20190040); China Agriculture Research System (CARS-13).
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Li, X., Yang, Z., Zhang, Y. et al. Atractylodes lancea volatiles induce physiological responses in neighboring peanut plant during intercropping. Plant Soil 453, 409–422 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-020-04615-z
- Plant volatile
- Physiological response
- Root exudate
- Rhizosphere microbial community