Plant growth-promoting bacteria can improve host plant traits including nutrient uptake and metabolism and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Understanding the molecular basis of plant-bacteria interactions using dual RNA-seq analyses provides key knowledge of both host and bacteria simultaneously, leading to future enhancements of beneficial interactions. In this study, dual RNA-seq analyses were performed to provide insights into the early-stage interactions between barley seedlings and three novel bacterial strains (two Paenibacillus sp. strains and one Erwinia gerundensis strain) isolated from the perennial ryegrass seed microbiome. Differentially expressed bacterial and barley genes/transcripts involved in plant-bacteria interactions were identified, with varying species- and strain-specific responses. Overall, transcriptome profiles suggested that all three strains improved stress response, signal transduction, and nutrient uptake and metabolism of barley seedlings. Results also suggested potential improvements in seedling root growth via repressing ethylene biosynthesis in roots. Bacterial secondary metabolite gene clusters producing compounds that are potentially associated with interactions with the barley endophytic microbiome and associated with stress tolerance of plants under nutrient limiting conditions were also identified. The results of this study provided the molecular basis of plant growth-promoting activities of three novel bacterial strains in barley, laid a solid foundation for the future development of these three bacterial strains as biofertilisers, and identified key differences between bacterial strains of the same species in their responses to plants.
Keywords: Erwinia gerundensis; Paenibacillus; RNA-seq; barley; growth-promotion; interaction.