Aromatic plants, such as vetiver grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides), possess strong abilities to resist environmental stresses. However, whether such abilities stem from the interaction between specific chemical characteristics and the associated microbes in roots and rhizosphere remains unclear. We conducted pot experiments to analyze stress-tolerant parameters, organic compounds, and bacterial communities in roots and rhizosphere of vetiver under typical metal(loid) stress [cadmium (Cd), arsenic (As), or Cd + As] over time. The results showed that the vetiver displayed limited toxic symptoms in terms of oxidative stress-antioxidant balance and chlorophyll content. The root low-molecular-weight organic acids (LMWOAs), fatty acids, and sterols were highly sensitive to growth stage (increased from the 4-month to the 8-month stage), and less sensitive to metal(loid) stress. The sugar contents in the rhizosphere soils also notably increased over time. Such endo and rhizosphere chemical changes strongly correlated with and enriched the functional bacteria including Streptomyces, which can resist stress and promote plant growth. The compound-bacteria interaction highly depended on growth stage. Vetiver demonstrated a progressive adaptation to stresses through metabolite modulation and cellular defense reinforcement. Our study evidenced that vetiver shapes the interaction between organic compounds and bacterial community in the root-soil interface and provides notable stress-resistant functions.
Keywords: Heavy metal(loid)s; Organic compounds; Rhizosphere bacteria; Stress tolerance; Vetiver.
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