ECODA project number: B.2.1
Principal investigator: Donald L. Smith
The objective of this sub-activity was to understand the potential for microbe-to-plant signaling compounds such as lipochitooligosaccharides (LCOc) and thuricin 17 to help canola plants deal with stressful growing conditions.
Treatment of canola seeds with micromolar (μM) LCO solution indeed accelerated the emergence of young “fastplants” (a canola genotype developed for very rapid maturity) to a very significant degree and also increased seed yield. The application of this LCO solution to seed at planting promoted the regulation of plant leaf temperatures in greenhouse experiments, resulting in less extreme leaf temperatures following treatment. LCO spray treatment produced plants with longer branches, but increased apical dominance as well; which might be manipulated under field conditions to improve crop yield. Interestingly, when stress levels were extreme the signaling compounds could have negative effects.
Field experiments were conducted in each of 2011 and 2012. Field experiments were not required as part of the grant and the 2011 experiment was, therefore, seeded after all other seeding conducted as part of our summer field research, which — in combination with a period of drought and heat — led to very difficult growth conditions and variability of results; growth values for signaling compound treated material were generally higher than controls; however, the high variability masked significance. In 2012, LCO treatment resulted in greater production of branches, pods and biomass. In general, these signaling compounds do exhibit potential to modify growth and development of canola; further experiments will clarify agronomic/commercial application of these materials.