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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mining the Agave Microbiome for adaptions to arid environments


A major challenge facing the biofuels industry is the identification of high-yield plant feedstocks that can be cultivated with minimal resource inputs without competing for land and water supplies with existing food crops. Recent research has demonstrated that the Agave plant, cultivated in Mexico and Southwestern United States for the production of fiber and alcohol, meets these criteria1. Agaves grow on non-arable rocky soils in regions characterized by prolonged drought and extreme temperatures, due in part to physiological adaptions that prevent excess water-loss in arid environments2. Plant-microbial symbioses can play a role in helping plants adapt to heat and drought stress, increasing the accessibility of soil nutrients, or compete with plant pathogens3. Whether agaves have similar beneficial microbe interactions in their native environment is unknown. We aim to provide a comprehensive characterization of the Agave microbiome, with the goal of identifying specific community members that may contribute to Agave biotic and abiotic stress tolerance

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