Simplified and representative bacterial community of maize roots.
ABSTRACT: Plant-associated microbes are important for the growth and health of their hosts. As a result of numerous prior studies, we know that host genotypes and abiotic factors influence the composition of plant microbiomes. However, the high complexity of these communities challenges detailed studies to define experimentally the mechanisms underlying the dynamics of community assembly and the beneficial effects of such microbiomes on plant hosts. In this work, from the distinctive microbiota assembled by maize roots, through host-mediated selection, we obtained a greatly simplified synthetic bacterial community consisting of seven strains (Enterobacter cloacae, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Ochrobactrum pituitosum, Herbaspirillum frisingense, Pseudomonas putida, Curtobacterium pusillum, and Chryseobacterium indologenes) representing three of the four most dominant phyla found in maize roots. By using a selective culture-dependent method to track the abundance of each strain, we investigated the role that each plays in community assembly on roots of axenic maize seedlings. Only the removal of E. cloacae led to the complete loss of the community, and C. pusillum took over. This result suggests that E. cloacae plays the role of keystone species in this model ecosystem. In planta and in vitro, this model community inhibited the phytopathogenic fungus Fusarium verticillioides, indicating a clear benefit to the host. Thus, combined with the selective culture-dependent quantification method, our synthetic seven-species community representing the root microbiome has the potential to serve as a useful system to explore how bacterial interspecies interactions affect root microbiome assembly and to dissect the beneficial effects of the root microbiota on hosts under laboratory conditions in the future.
Project description:Plant-parasitic nematodes cause considerable damage to crop plants. The rhizosphere microbiome can affect invasion and reproductive success of plant-parasitic nematodes, thus affecting plant damage. In this study, we investigated how the transplanted rhizosphere microbiome from different crops affect plant-parasitic nematodes on soybean or tomato, and whether the plant's own microbiome from the rhizosphere protects it better than the microbiome from fallow soil. Soybean plants growing in sterilized substrate were inoculated with the microbiome extracted from the rhizosphere of soybean, maize, or tomato. Controls were inoculated with extracts from bulk soil, or not inoculated. After the microbiome was established, the root lesion nematode <i>Pratylenchus penetrans</i> was added. Root invasion of <i>P. penetrans</i> was significantly reduced on soybean plants inoculated with the microbiome from maize or soybean compared to tomato or bulk soil, or the uninoculated control. In the analogous experiment with tomato plants inoculated with either <i>P. penetrans</i> or the root knot nematode <i>Meloidogyne incognita</i>, the rhizosphere microbiomes of maize and tomato reduced root invasion by <i>P. penetrans</i> and <i>M. incognita</i> compared to microbiomes from soybean or bulk soil. Reproduction of <i>M. incognita</i> on tomato followed the same trend, and it was best suppressed by the tomato rhizosphere microbiome. In split-root experiments with soybean and tomato plants, a systemic effect of the inoculated rhizosphere microbiomes on root invasion of <i>P. penetrans</i> was shown. Furthermore, some transplanted microbiomes slightly enhanced plant growth compared to uninoculated plants. The microbiomes from maize rhizosphere and bulk soil increased the fresh weights of roots and shoots of soybean plants, and microbiomes from soybean rhizosphere and bulk soil increased the fresh weights of roots and shoots of tomato plants. Nematode invasion did not affect plant growth in these short-term experiments. In conclusion, this study highlights the importance of the rhizosphere microbiome in protecting crops against plant-parasitic nematodes. An effect of pre-crops on the rhizosphere microbiome might be harnessed to enhance the resistance of crops towards plant-parasitic nematodes. However, nematode-suppressive effects of a particular microbiome may not necessarily coincide with improvement of plant growth in the absence of plant-parasitic nematodes.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Plants actively shape their associated microbial communities by synthesizing bio-active substances. Plant secondary metabolites are known for their signaling and plant defense functions, yet little is known about their overall effect on the plant microbiome. In this work, we studied the effects of benzoxazinoids (BXs), a group of secondary metabolites present in maize, on the host-associated microbial structure. Using BX knock-out mutants and their W22 parental lines, we employed 16S and ITS2 rRNA gene amplicon analysis to characterize the maize microbiome at early growth stages. RESULTS:Rhizo-box experiment showed that BXs affected microbial communities not only in roots and shoots, but also in the rhizosphere. Fungal richness in roots was more affected by BXs than root bacterial richness. Maize genotype (BX mutants and their parental lines) as well as plant age explained both fungal and bacterial community structure. Genotypic effect on microbial communities was stronger in roots than in rhizosphere. Diverse, but specific, microbial taxa were affected by BX in both roots and shoots, for instance, many plant pathogens were negatively correlated to BX content. In addition, a co-occurrence analysis of the root microbiome revealed that BXs affected specific groups of the microbiome. CONCLUSIONS:This study provides insights into the role of BXs for microbial community assembly in the rhizosphere and in roots and shoots. Coupling the quantification of BX metabolites with bacterial and fungal communities, we were able to suggest a gatekeeper role of BX by showing its correlation with specific microbial taxa and thus providing insights into effects on specific fungal and bacterial taxa in maize roots and shoots. Root microbial co-occurrence networks revealed that BXs affect specific microbial clusters.
Project description:Maize, a main crop worldwide, establishes a mutualistic symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi providing nutrients to the roots from soil volumes which are normally not in reach of the non-colonized root. The mycorrhizal phosphate uptake pathway (MPU) spans from extraradical hyphae to root cortex cells housing fungal arbuscules and promotes the supply of phosphate to the mycorrhizal host in exchange for photosynthetic carbon. This symbiotic association with the mycobiont has been shown to affect plant host nutritional status and growth performance. However, whether and how the MPU affects the root microbial community associated with mycorrhizal hosts in association with neighboring plants, remains to be demonstrated. Here the maize germinal Mu transposon insertion mutant pht1;6, defective in mycorrhiza-specific Pi transporter PHT1;6 gene, and wild type B73 (wt) plants were grown in mono- and mixed culture and examined under greenhouse and field conditions. Disruption of the MPU in pht1;6 resulted in strongly diminished growth performance, in reduced P allocation to photosynthetic source leaves, and in imbalances in leaf elemental composition beyond P. At the microbial community level a loss of MPU activity had a minor effect on the root-associated fungal microbiome which was almost fully restricted to AM fungi of the Glomeromycotina. Moreover, while wt grew better in presence of pht1;6, pht1;6 accumulated little biomass irrespective of whether it was grown in mono- or mixed culture and despite of an enhanced fungal colonization of its roots in co-culture with wt. This suggested that a functional MPU is prerequisite to maintain maize growth and that neighboring plants competed for AM fungal Pi in low P soil. Thus future strategies towards improving yield in maize populations on soils with low inputs of P fertilizer could be realized by enhancing MPU at the individual plant level while leaving the root-associated fungal community largely unaffected.
Project description:The bacterial endophyte Herbaspirillum frisingense GSF30(T) is a colonizer of several grasses grown in temperate climates, including the highly nitrogen-efficient perennial energy grass Miscanthus. Inoculation of Miscanthus sinensis seedlings with H. frisingense promoted root and shoot growth but had only a minor impact on nutrient concentrations. The bacterium affected the root architecture and increased fine-root structures. Although H. frisingense has the genetic requirements to fix nitrogen, only minor changes in nitrogen concentrations were observed. Herbaspirillum agglomerates were identified primarily in the root apoplast but also in the shoots. The short-term (3h) and long-term (3 weeks) transcriptomic responses of the plant to bacterial inoculation revealed that H. frisingense induced rapid changes in plant hormone signalling, most prominent in jasmonate signalling. Ethylene signalling pathways were also affected and persisted after 3 weeks in the root. Growth stimulation of the root by the ethylene precursor 1-aminocyclopropane 1-carboxylic acid was dose dependent and was affected by H. frisingense inoculation. Minor changes in the proteome were identified after 3 weeks. This study suggests that H. frisingense improves plant growth by modulating plant hormone signalling pathways and provides a framework to understand the beneficial effects of diazotrophic plant-growth-promoting bacteria, such as H. frisingense, on the biomass grass Miscanthus.
Project description:Plant-associated microorganisms are essential for their hosts' survival and performance. Yet, most plant microbiome studies to date have focused on terrestrial species sampled across relatively small spatial scales. Here, we report the results of a global-scale analysis of microbial communities associated with leaf and root surfaces of the marine eelgrass Zostera marina throughout its range in the Northern Hemisphere. By contrasting host microbiomes with those of surrounding seawater and sediment, we uncovered the structure, composition, and variability of microbial communities associated with eelgrass. We also investigated hypotheses about the assembly of the eelgrass microbiome using a metabolic modeling approach. Our results reveal leaf communities displaying high variability and spatial turnover that mirror their adjacent coastal seawater microbiomes. By contrast, roots showed relatively low compositional turnover and were distinct from surrounding sediment communities, a result driven by the enrichment of predicted sulfur-oxidizing bacterial taxa on root surfaces. Predictions from metabolic modeling of enriched taxa were consistent with a habitat-filtering community assembly mechanism whereby similarity in resource use drives taxonomic cooccurrence patterns on belowground, but not aboveground, host tissues. Our work provides evidence for a core eelgrass root microbiome with putative functional roles and highlights potentially disparate processes influencing microbial community assembly on different plant compartments.IMPORTANCE Plants depend critically on their associated microbiome, yet the structure of microbial communities found on marine plants remains poorly understood in comparison to that for terrestrial species. Seagrasses are the only flowering plants that live entirely in marine environments. The return of terrestrial seagrass ancestors to oceans is among the most extreme habitat shifts documented in plants, making them an ideal testbed for the study of microbial symbioses with plants that experience relatively harsh abiotic conditions. In this study, we report the results of a global sampling effort to extensively characterize the structure of microbial communities associated with the widespread seagrass species Zostera marina, or eelgrass, across its geographic range. Our results reveal major differences in the structure and composition of above- versus belowground microbial communities on eelgrass surfaces, as well as their relationships with the environment and host.
Project description:Across plants and animals, host-associated microbial communities play fundamental roles in host nutrition, development, and immunity. The factors that shape host-microbiome interactions are poorly understood, yet essential for understanding the evolution and ecology of these symbioses. Plant roots assemble two distinct microbial compartments from surrounding soil: the rhizosphere (microbes surrounding roots) and the endosphere (microbes within roots). Root-associated microbes were key for the evolution of land plants and underlie fundamental ecosystem processes. However, it is largely unknown how plant evolution has shaped root microbial communities, and in turn, how these microbes affect plant ecology, such as the ability to mitigate biotic and abiotic stressors. Here we show that variation among 30 angiosperm species, which have diverged for up to 140 million years, affects root bacterial diversity and composition. Greater similarity in root microbiomes between hosts leads to negative effects on plant performance through soil feedback, with specific microbial taxa in the endosphere and rhizosphere potentially affecting competitive interactions among plant species. Drought also shifts the composition of root microbiomes, most notably by increasing the relative abundance of the Actinobacteria. However, this drought response varies across host plant species, and host-specific changes in the relative abundance of endosphere Streptomyces are associated with host drought tolerance. Our results emphasize the causes of variation in root microbiomes and their ecological importance for plant performance in response to biotic and abiotic stressors.
Project description:Striga species are noxious root hemi-parasitic weeds that debilitate cereal production in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Control options for Striga are limited and developing Striga resistant crop germplasm is regarded as the best and most sustainable control measure. Efforts to improve germplasm for Striga resistance by a non-Genetic Modification (GM) approach, for example by exploiting natural resistance, or by a GM approach are constrained by limited information on the biological processes underpinning host-parasite associations. Additionaly, a GM approach is stymied by lack of availability of candidate resistance genes for introduction into hosts and robust transformation methods to validate gene functions. Indeed, a majority of Striga hosts, the world's most cultivated cereals, are recalcitrant to genetic transformation. In maize, the existing protocols for transformation and regeneration are tedious, lengthy, and highly genotype-specific with low efficiency of transformation.We used Agrobacterium rhizogenes strain K599 carrying a reporter gene construct, Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), to generate transgenic composite maize plants that were challenged with the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica. Eighty five percent of maize plants produced transgenic hairy roots expressing GFP. Consistent with most hairy roots produced in other species, transformed maize roots exhibited a hairy root phenotype, the hallmark of A. rhizogenes mediated transformation. Transgenic hairy roots resulting from A. rhizogenes transformation were readily infected by S. hermonthica. There were no significant differences in the number and size of S. hermonthica individuals recovered from either transgenic or wild type roots.This rapid, high throughput, transformation technique will advance our understanding of gene function in parasitic plant-host interactions.
Project description:The aim of this study was to characterize culturable rhizosphere and endophytic bacterial isolates isolated from rhizosphere soil and roots of maize plant irrigated with industrial and municipal wastewater in terms of resistance to heavy metals and salinity and plant growth promoting (PGP) traits. Results illustrated that both rhizosphere isolates and endophytic ones had various PGP characteristics in terms of both the number and the production amount of these characteristics. A substantial number of the bacterial isolates (both endophytic isolates and rhizosphere isolates) were tolerant to heavy metals (multi-metal resistant bacteria). Compared to endophytic isolates, rhizosphere isolates had greater resistance to heavy metals. Both endophytic isolates and rhizosphere ones showed remarkable resistance to salinity (7% NaCl). Based on comparison of 16S rRNA sequences and biochemical tests, the effective isolates, based on having multiple PGP characteristics and higher resistance to heavy metals and salinity, were identified. Isolates N5 and R7 were closely related to Bacillus cereus and Enterobacter cloacae, respectively. In addition, the ability of rhizosphere strain R7, as a multi-metal resistant bacterium, in the removal of cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) by its biomass and colonization of maize roots in the presence of these metals was evaluated. This strain could remove these metals from the solution (46.5-88.95%) and colonize both root surface and inside root of maize (4-7 Log10 CFU (colony-forming unit) g-1 fresh root weight) under heavy metal stress. Therefore, it can be concluded that maize plant irrigated with industrial and municipal wastewater harbors salinity and heavy metals-resistant bacteria and may be potential reservoirs for isolating bacteria effective at alleviating heavy metal stress in the plant, reducing accumulation of heavy metals in crops such as maize, and removing heavy metals in aqueous media (bioremediation of heavy metal-contaminated wastewater system).
Project description:Plants shape distinct, species-specific microbiomes in their rhizospheres. A main premise for evaluating microbial communities associated with root-soil compartments is their successful separation into the rhizosphere (soil-root interface), the rhizoplane (root surface), and the endosphere (inside roots). We evaluated different approaches (washing, sonication, and bleaching) regarding their efficiency to separate microbial cells associated with different root compartments of soil-grown rice using fluorescence microscopy and community fingerprinting of 16S rRNA genes. Vigorous washing detached 45% of the rhizoplane population compared to untreated roots. Additional sonication reduced rhizoplane-attached microorganisms by up to 78% but caused various degrees of root tissue destruction at all sonication intensities tested. Treatment with sodium hypochlorite almost completely (98%) removed rhizoplane-associated microbial cells. Community fingerprinting revealed that microbial communities obtained from untreated, washed, and sonicated roots were not statistically distinguishable. Hypochlorite-treated roots harbored communities significantly different from all other samples, likely representing true endospheric populations. Applying these procedures to other root samples (bean and clover) revealed that treatment efficiencies were strongly affected by root morphological parameters such as root hair density and rigidity of epidermis. Our findings suggest that a careful evaluation of separation strategies prior to molecular community analysis is indispensable, especially when endophytes are the subject of interest.
Project description:Terrestrial plants host phylogenetically and functionally diverse groups of below-ground microbes, whose community structure controls plant growth/survival in both natural and agricultural ecosystems. Therefore, understanding the processes by which whole root-associated microbiomes are organized is one of the major challenges in ecology and plant science. We here report that diverse root-associated fungi can form highly compartmentalized networks of coexistence within host roots and that the structure of the fungal symbiont communities can be partitioned into semi-discrete types even within a single host plant population. Illumina sequencing of root-associated fungi in a monodominant south beech forest revealed that the network representing symbiont-symbiont co-occurrence patterns was compartmentalized into clear modules, which consisted of diverse functional groups of mycorrhizal and endophytic fungi. Consequently, terminal roots of the plant were colonized by either of the two largest fungal species sets (represented by Oidiodendron or Cenococcum). Thus, species-rich root microbiomes can have alternative community structures, as recently shown in the relationships between human gut microbiome type (i.e., 'enterotype') and host individual health. This study also shows an analytical framework for pinpointing network hubs in symbiont-symbiont networks, leading to the working hypothesis that a small number of microbial species organize the overall root-microbiome dynamics.