Conservation of Endophyte Bacterial Community Structure Across Two Panicum Grass Species.
ABSTRACT: Panicum represents a large genus of many North American prairie grass species. These include switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), a biofuel crop candidate with wide geographic range, as well as Panicum hallii, a close relative to switchgrass, which serves as a model system for the study of Panicum genetics due to its diploid genome and short growth cycles. For the advancement of switchgrass as a biofuel crop, it is essential to understand host microbiome interactions, which can be impacted by plant genetics and environmental factors inducing ecotype-specific phenotypic traits. We here compared rhizosphere and root endosphere bacterial communities of upland and lowland P. virgatum and P. hallii genotypes planted at two sites in Texas. Our analysis shows that sampling site predominantly contributed to bacterial community variance in the rhizosphere, however, impacted root endosphere bacterial communities much less. Instead we observed a relatively large core endophytic microbiome dominated by ubiquitously root-colonizing bacterial genera Streptomyces, Pseudomonas, and Bradyrhizobium. Endosphere communities displayed comparable diversity and conserved community structures across genotypes of both Panicum species. Functional insights into interactions between P. hallii and its root endophyte microbiome could hence inform testable hypotheses that are relevant for the improvement of switchgrass as a biofuel crop.
Project description:Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a promising biofuel crop native to the United States with genotypes that are adapted to a wide range of distinct ecosystems. Various plants have been shown to undergo symbioses with plant growth-promoting bacteria and fungi, however, plant-associated microbial communities of switchgrass have not been extensively studied to date. We present 16S ribosomal RNA gene and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) data of rhizosphere and root endosphere compartments of four switchgrass genotypes to test the hypothesis that host selection of its root microbiota prevails after transfer to non-native soil. We show that differences in bacterial, archaeal and fungal community composition and diversity are strongly driven by plant compartment and switchgrass genotypes and ecotypes. Plant-associated microbiota show an enrichment in Alphaproteobacteria and Actinobacteria as well as Sordariales and Pleosporales compared with the surrounding soil. Root associated compartments display low-complexity communities dominated and enriched in Actinobacteria, in particular Streptomyces, in the lowland genotypes, and in Alphaproteobacteria, specifically Sphingobium, in the upland genotypes. Our comprehensive root analysis serves as a snapshot of host-specific bacterial and fungal associations of switchgrass in the field and confirms that host-selected microbiomes persist after transfer to non-native soil.
Project description:Background:Biofuels derived from lignocellulosic plant material are an important component of current renewable energy strategies. Improvement efforts in biofuel feedstock crops have been primarily focused on increasing biomass yield with less consideration for tissue quality or composition. Four primary components found in the plant cell wall contribute to the overall quality of plant tissue and conversion characteristics, cellulose and hemicellulose polysaccharides are the primary targets for fuel conversion, while lignin and ash provide structure and defense. We explore the genetic architecture of tissue characteristics using a quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping approach in Panicum hallii, a model lignocellulosic grass system. Diversity in the mapping population was generated by crossing xeric and mesic varietals, comparative to northern upland and southern lowland ecotypes in switchgrass. We use near-infrared spectroscopy with a primary analytical method to create a P. hallii specific calibration model to quickly quantify cell wall components. Results:Ash, lignin, glucan, and xylan comprise 68% of total dry biomass in P. hallii: comparable to other feedstocks. We identified 14 QTL and one epistatic interaction across these four cell wall traits and found almost half of the QTL to localize to a single linkage group. Conclusions:Panicum hallii serves as the genomic model for its close relative and emerging biofuel crop, switchgrass (P. virgatum). We used high throughput phenotyping to map genomic regions that impact natural variation in leaf tissue composition. Understanding the genetic architecture of tissue traits in a tractable model grass system will lead to a better understanding of cell wall structure as well as provide genomic resources for bioenergy crop breeding programs.
Project description:Perennial grasses are promising feedstocks for biofuel production, with potential for leveraging their native microbiomes to increase their productivity and resilience to environmental stress. Here, we characterize the 16S rRNA gene diversity and seasonal assembly of bacterial and archaeal microbiomes of two perennial cellulosic feedstocks, switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) and miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus). We sample leaves and soil every three weeks from pre-emergence through senescence for two consecutive switchgrass growing seasons and one miscanthus season, and identify core leaf taxa based on occupancy. Virtually all leaf taxa are also detected in soil; source-sink modeling shows non-random, ecological filtering by the leaf, suggesting that soil is an important reservoir of phyllosphere diversity. Core leaf taxa include early, mid, and late season groups that were consistent across years and crops. This consistency in leaf microbiome dynamics and core members is promising for microbiome manipulation or management to support crop production.
Project description:Climatic adaptation is an example of a genotype-by-environment interaction (G×E) of fitness. Selection upon gene expression regulatory variation can contribute to adaptive phenotypic diversity; however, surprisingly few studies have examined how genome-wide patterns of gene expression G×E are manifested in response to environmental stress and other selective agents that cause climatic adaptation. Here, we characterize drought-responsive expression divergence between upland (drought-adapted) and lowland (mesic) ecotypes of the perennial C4 grass,Panicum hallii, in natural field conditions. Overall, we find that cis-regulatory elements contributed to gene expression divergence across 47% of genes, 7.2% of which exhibit drought-responsive G×E. While less well-represented, we observe 1294 genes (7.8%) with transeffects.Trans-by-environment interactions are weaker and much less common than cis G×E, occurring in only 0.7% oft rans-regulated genes. Finally, gene expression heterosis is highly enriched in expression phenotypes with significant G×E. As such, modes of inheritance that drive heterosis, such as dominance or overdominance, may be common among G×E genes. Interestingly, motifs specific to drought-responsive transcription factors are highly enriched in the promoters of genes exhibiting G×E and transregulation, indicating that expression G×E and heterosis may result from the evolution of transcription factors or their binding sites.P. hallii serves as the genomic model for its close relative and emerging biofuel crop, switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Accordingly, the results here not only aid in the discovery of the genetic mechanisms that underlie local adaptation but also provide a foundation to improve switchgrass yield under water-limited conditions.
Project description:Background:Understanding the DNA methylome and its relationship with non-coding RNAs, including microRNAs (miRNAs) and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), is essential for elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying key biological processes in plants. Few studies have examined the functional roles of the DNA methylome in grass species with highly heterozygous polyploid genomes. Results:We performed genome-wide DNA methylation profiling in the tetraploid switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) cultivar 'Alamo' using bisulfite sequencing. Single-base-resolution methylation patterns were observed in switchgrass leaf and root tissues, which allowed for characterization of the relationship between DNA methylation and mRNA, miRNA, and lncRNA populations. The results of this study revealed that siRNAs positively regulate DNA methylation of the mCHH sites surrounding genes, and that DNA methylation interferes with gene and lncRNA expression in switchgrass. Ninety-six genes covered by differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were annotated by GO analysis as being involved in stimulus-related processes. Functionally, 82% (79/96) of these genes were found to be hypomethylated in switchgrass root tissue. Sequencing analysis of lncRNAs identified two lncRNAs that are potential precursors of miRNAs, which are predicted to target genes that function in cellulose biosynthesis, stress regulation, and stem and root development. Conclusions:This study characterized the DNA methylome in switchgrass and elucidated its relevance to gene and non-coding RNAs. These results provide valuable genomic resources and references that will aid further epigenetic research in this important biofuel crop.
Project description:Plants have a diverse endophytic microbiome that is functionally important for their growth, development, and health. In this study, the diversity and specificity of culturable endophytic fungal communities were explored in one of the most important biofuel crops, switchgrass plants (Panicum virgatum L.), which have been cultivated on a reclaimed coal-mining site for more than 20 years. The endophytic fungi were isolated from the surface-sterilized shoot (leaf and stem), root, and seed tissues of switchgrass plants and then cultured for identification. A total of 1339 fungal isolates were found and 22 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were sequence identified by internal transcribed spacer (ITS) primers and grouped into 7 orders and 4 classes. Although a diverse range of endophytic fungi associated with switchgrass were documented, the most abundant class, order, and species were Sordariomycetes, Hypocreales, and Fusarium spp. respectively. About 86% of the isolated endophytic fungi were able to enhance the heights of the shoots; 69% could increase the shoot fresh weights; and 62% could improve the shoot dry weights after being reintroduced back into the switchgrass plants, which illustrated their functional importance. Through the Shannon Diversity Index analysis, we observed a gradation of species diversity, with shoots and roots having the similar values and seeds having a lesser value. It was observed that the switchgrass plants showing better growth performance displayed higher endophytic fungal species diversity and abundance. It was also discovered that the rhizosphere soil organic matter content was positively correlated with the fungal species diversity. All these data demonstrate the functional association of these beneficial endophytic fungi with switchgrass and their great potential in improving the switchgrass growth and biomass to benefit the biofuel industry by reducing chemical inputs and burden to the environment.
Project description:Polyploidy poses challenges for phylogenetic reconstruction because of the need to identify and distinguish between homoeologous loci. This can be addressed by use of low copy nuclear markers. Panicum s.s. is a genus of about 100 species in the grass tribe Paniceae, subfamily Panicoideae, and is divided into five sections. Many of the species are known to be polyploids. The most well-known of the Panicum polyploids are switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and common or Proso millet (P. miliaceum). Switchgrass is in section Virgata, along with P. tricholaenoides, P. amarum, and P. amarulum, whereas P. miliaceum is in sect. Panicum. We have generated sequence data from five low copy nuclear loci and two chloroplast loci and have clarified the origin of P. virgatum. We find that all members of sects. Virgata and Urvilleana are the result of diversification after a single allopolyploidy event. The closest diploid relatives of switchgrass are in sect. Rudgeana, native to Central and South America. Within sections Virgata and Urvilleana, P. tricholaenoides is sister to the remaining species. Panicum racemosum and P. urvilleanum form a clade, which may be sister to P. chloroleucum. Panicum amarum, P. amarulum, and the lowland and upland ecotypes of P. virgatum together form a clade, within which relationships are complex. Hexaploid and octoploid plants are likely allopolyploids, with P. amarum and P. amarulum sharing genomes with P. virgatum. Octoploid P. virgatum plants are formed via hybridization between disparate tetraploids. We show that polyploidy precedes diversification in a complex set of polyploids; our data thus suggest that polyploidy could provide the raw material for diversification. In addition, we show two rounds of allopolyploidization in the ancestry of switchgrass, and identify additional species that may be part of its broader gene pool. This may be relevant for development of the crop for biofuels.
Project description:Plants may actively cultivate microorganisms in their roots and rhizosphere that enhance their nutrition. To develop cropping strategies that substitute mineral fertilizers for beneficial root symbioses, we must first understand how microbial communities associated with plant roots differ among plant taxa and how they respond to fertilization. Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and rhizobacteria are of particular interest because they enhance nutrient availability to plants and perform a suite of nutrient cycling functions. The purpose of this experiment is to examine the root and soil microbiome in a long-term switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) biofuel feedstock experiment and determine how AM fungi and rhizobacteria respond to plant diversity and soil fertility. We hypothesize that intra- and interspecific plant diversity, nitrogen fertilization (+N), and their interaction will influence the biomass and community composition of AM fungi and rhizobacteria. We further hypothesize that +N will reduce the abundance of nitrogenase-encoding nifH genes on the rhizoplane. Roots and soils were sampled from three switchgrass cultivars (Cave-in-Rock, Kanlow, Southlow) grown in monoculture, intraspecific mixture, and interspecific planting mixtures with either Andropogon gerardii or diverse native tallgrass prairie species. Molecular sequencing was performed on root and soil samples, fatty acid extractions were assessed to determine microbial biomass, and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was performed on nifH genes from the rhizoplane. Sequence data determined core AM fungal and bacterial microbiomes and indicator taxa for plant diversity and +N treatments. We found that plant diversity and +N influenced AM fungal biomass and community structure. Across all plant diversity treatments, +N reduced the biomass of AM fungi and nifH gene abundance by more than 40%. The AM fungal genus Scutellospora was an indicator for +N, with relative abundance significantly greater under +N and in monoculture treatments. Community composition of rhizobacteria was influenced by plant diversity but not by +N. Verrucomicrobia and Proteobacteria were the dominant bacterial phyla in both roots and soils. Our findings provide evidence that soil fertility and plant diversity structure the root and soil microbiome. Optimization of soil communities for switchgrass production must take into account differences among cultivars and their unique responses to shifts in soil fertility.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a prime candidate crop for biofuel feedstock production in the United States. As it is a self-incompatible polyploid perennial species, breeding elite and stable switchgrass cultivars with traditional breeding methods is very challenging. Translational genomics may contribute significantly to the genetic improvement of switchgrass, especially for the incorporation of elite traits that are absent in natural switchgrass populations. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In this study, we constitutively expressed an Arabidopsis NAC transcriptional factor gene, LONG VEGETATIVE PHASE ONE (AtLOV1), in switchgrass. Overexpression of AtLOV1 in switchgrass caused the plants to have a smaller leaf angle by changing the morphology and organization of epidermal cells in the leaf collar region. Also, overexpression of AtLOV1 altered the lignin content and the monolignol composition of cell walls, and caused delayed flowering time. Global gene-expression analysis of the transgenic plants revealed an array of responding genes with predicted functions in plant development, cell wall biosynthesis, and flowering. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: To our knowledge, this is the first report of a single ectopically expressed transcription factor altering the leaf angle, cell wall composition, and flowering time of switchgrass, therefore demonstrating the potential advantage of translational genomics for the genetic improvement of this crop.
Project description:Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), a perennial C4 grass, represents an important species in natural and anthropogenic grasslands of North America. Its resilience to abiotic and biotic stress has made switchgrass a preferred bioenergy crop. However, little is known about the mechanisms of resistance of switchgrass against pathogens and herbivores. Volatile compounds such as terpenes have important activities in plant direct and indirect defense. Here, we show that switchgrass leaves emit blends of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes upon feeding by the generalist insect herbivore Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm) and in a systemic response to the treatment of roots with defense hormones. Belowground application of methyl jasmonate also induced the release of volatile terpenes from roots. To correlate the emission of terpenes with the expression and activity of their corresponding biosynthetic genes, we identified a gene family of 44 monoterpene and sesquiterpene synthases (mono- and sesqui-TPSs) of the type-a, type-b, type-g, and type-e subfamilies, of which 32 TPSs were found to be functionally active in vitro. The TPS genes are distributed over the K and N subgenomes with clusters occurring on several chromosomes. Synteny analysis revealed syntenic networks for approximately 30-40% of the switchgrass TPS genes in the genomes of Panicum hallii, Setaria italica, and Sorghum bicolor, suggesting shared TPS ancestry in the common progenitor of these grass lineages. Eighteen switchgrass TPS genes were substantially induced upon insect and hormone treatment and the enzymatic products of nine of these genes correlated with compounds of the induced volatile blends. In accordance with the emission of volatiles, TPS gene expression was induced systemically in response to belowground treatment, whereas this response was not observed upon aboveground feeding of S. frugiperda. Our results demonstrate complex above and belowground responses of induced volatile terpene metabolism in switchgrass and provide a framework for more detailed investigations of the function of terpenes in stress resistance in this monocot crop.