Indole derivatives maintain the status quo between beneficial biofilms and their plant hosts

Hadas Ganin, Natalie Kemper, Sagit Meir, Ilana Rogachev, Shir Ely, Hassan Massalha, Aviad Mandaby, Abraham Shanzer, Alona Keren-Paz, Michael M. Meijler, Sergey Malitsky, Asaph Aharoni, Ilana Kolodkin-Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Biofilms formed by bacteria on plant roots play an important role in maintaining an optimal rhizosphere environment that supports plant growth and fitness. Bacillus subtilis is a potent plant growth promoter, forming biofilms that play a key role in protecting the host from fungal and bacterial infections. In this work, we demonstrate that the development of B. subtilis biofilms is antagonized by specific indole derivatives that accumulate during symbiotic interactions with plant hosts. Indole derivatives are more potent signals when the plant polysaccharide xylan serves as a carbon source, a mechanism to sustain beneficial biofilms at a biomass that can be supported by the plant. Moreover, B. subtilis biofilms formed by mutants resistant to indole derivatives become deleterious to the plants due to their capacity to consume and recycle plant polysaccharides. These results demonstrate how a dynamic metabolite-based dialogue can promote homeostasis between plant hosts and their beneficial biofilm communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013-1025
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Plant-Microbe Interactions
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Metabolism
  • Microbial ecology
  • Molecular signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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