Researchers from the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) and Virginia Tech are exploring ways to improve summer lettuce production. Their recently published study in the international peer-reviewed journal Scientia Horticulturae, which IALR Chief Scientist Dr. Chuansheng Mei led, explores the role of certain bacteria in boosting lettuce growth during hot weather.
This research leverages the expertise and resources of the Plant Endophyte Research Center and the Virginia Tech-IALR Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Innovation Center, both located at IALR. The team combined their plant science, microbiology, biostimulants and agronomy expertise to investigate natural solutions for enhancing lettuce yields.
The title: ACC (1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid) deaminase-producing endophytic bacteria improve hydroponically grown lettuce in the greenhouse during the summer season.
The study focused on examining the effects of bacterial endophytes on lettuce growth in a hydroponic system during the summer. Specifically, the researchers looked at how these beneficial bacteria influenced the growth of two lettuce cultivars, ‘Buttercrunch’ and ‘Rex.’ By introducing selected strains of bacteria with high ACC deaminase activity, which lowers a key plant stress hormone, the team observed significant improvements in lettuce shoot growth and chlorophyll content.
Among the four endophytes tested, Burkholderia contaminans IALR1819 was particularly effective in enhancing lettuce production. With its high ACC deaminase activity, this bacterial endophyte played a crucial role in helping lettuce plants cope with heat stress and thrive in challenging conditions.
Implications for Agriculture
The findings of this research have important implications for agriculture, especially in regions where high temperatures pose challenges to crop production. Producers may have a valuable tool for improving crop resilience and productivity by harnessing the natural capabilities of beneficial bacteria.
As the global population grows, sustainable agricultural solutions are increasingly important. The Plant Endophyte Research Center and the CEA Innovation Center are focused on optimizing crop production while minimizing environmental impact.
The Research Team
- Dr. Chuansheng Mei, Chief Scientist at IALR
- Robert Chretien, Laboratory Research Associate at IALR
- Dr. Michael Evans, Director of the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech and Co-Director of the CEA Innovation Center
- Dr. Scott Lowman, Vice President of Applied Research at IALR and Co-Director of CEA Innovation Center
- Elizabeth Burrell, graduate student, Virginia Tech