Soil origin and plant genotype structure distinct microbiome compartments in the model legume Medicago truncatula
ABSTRACT: Background Understanding the genetic and environmental factors that structure plant microbiomes is necessary for leveraging these interactions to address critical needs in agriculture, conservation, and sustainability. Legumes, which form root nodule symbioses with nitrogen-fixing rhizobia, have served as model plants for understanding the genetics and evolution of beneficial plant-microbe interactions for decades, and thus have added value as models of plant-microbiome interactions. Here we use a common garden experiment with 16S rRNA gene amplicon and shotgun metagenomic sequencing to study the drivers of microbiome diversity and composition in three genotypes of the model legume Medicago truncatula grown in two native soil communities. Results Bacterial diversity decreased between external (rhizosphere) and internal plant compartments (root endosphere, nodule endosphere, and leaf endosphere). Community composition was shaped by strong compartment × soil origin and compartment × plant genotype interactions, driven by significant soil origin effects in the rhizosphere and significant plant genotype effects in the root endosphere. Nevertheless, all compartments were dominated by Ensifer, the genus of rhizobia that forms root nodule symbiosis with M. truncatula, and additional shotgun metagenomic sequencing suggests that the nodulating Ensifer were not genetically distinguishable from those elsewhere in the plant. We also identify a handful of OTUs that are common in nodule tissues, which are likely colonized from the root endosphere. Conclusions Our results demonstrate strong host filtering effects, with rhizospheres driven by soil origin and internal plant compartments driven by host genetics, and identify several key nodule-inhabiting taxa that coexist with rhizobia in the native range. Our results set the stage for future functional genetic experiments aimed at expanding our pairwise understanding of legume-rhizobium symbiosis toward a more mechanistic understanding of plant microbiomes. Video Abstract
Project description:Lotus japonicus has been used for decades as a model legume to study the establishment of binary symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing rhizobia that trigger root nodule organogenesis for bacterial accommodation. Using community profiling of 16S rRNA gene amplicons, we reveal that in Lotus, distinctive nodule- and root-inhabiting communities are established by parallel, rather than consecutive, selection of bacteria from the rhizosphere and root compartments. Comparative analyses of wild-type (WT) and symbiotic mutants in Nod factor receptor5 (nfr5), Nodule inception (nin) and Lotus histidine kinase1 (lhk1) genes identified a previously unsuspected role of the nodulation pathway in the establishment of different bacterial assemblages in the root and rhizosphere. We found that the loss of nitrogen-fixing symbiosis dramatically alters community structure in the latter two compartments, affecting at least 14 bacterial orders. The differential plant growth phenotypes seen between WT and the symbiotic mutants in nonsupplemented soil were retained under nitrogen-supplemented conditions that blocked the formation of functional nodules in WT, whereas the symbiosis-impaired mutants maintain an altered community structure in the nitrogen-supplemented soil. This finding provides strong evidence that the root-associated community shift in the symbiotic mutants is a direct consequence of the disabled symbiosis pathway rather than an indirect effect resulting from abolished symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Our findings imply a role of the legume host in selecting a broad taxonomic range of root-associated bacteria that, in addition to rhizobia, likely contribute to plant growth and ecological performance.
Project description:N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) act as quorum sensing signals that regulate cell-density dependent behaviors in many gram-negative bacteria, in particular those important for plant-microbe interactions. AHLs can also be recognized by plants, and this may influence their interactions with bacteria. Here we tested whether the exposure to AHLs affects the nodule-forming symbiosis between legume hosts and rhizobia. We treated roots of the model legume, Medicago truncatula, with a range of AHLs either from its specific symbiont, Sinorhizobium meliloti, or from the potential pathogens, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Agrobacterium vitis. We found increased numbers of nodules formed on root systems treated with the S. meliloti-specific AHL, 3-oxo-C14-homoserine lactone, at a concentration of 1 ?M, while the other AHLs did not result in significant changes to nodule numbers. We did not find any evidence for altered nodule invasion by the rhizobia. Quantification of flavonoids that could act as nod gene inducers in S. meliloti did not show any correlation with increased nodule numbers. The effects of AHLs were specific for an increase in nodule numbers, but not lateral root numbers or root length. Increased nodule numbers following 3-oxo-C14-homoserine lactone treatment were under control of autoregulation of nodulation and were still observed in the autoregulation mutant, sunn4 (super numeric nodules4). However, increases in nodule numbers by 3-oxo-C14-homoserine lactone were not found in the ethylene-insensitive sickle mutant. A comparison between M. truncatula with M. sativa (alfalfa) and Trifolium repens (white clover) showed that the observed effects of AHLs on nodule numbers were specific to M. truncatula, despite M. sativa nodulating with the same symbiont. We conclude that plant perception of the S. meliloti-specific 3-oxo-C14-homoserine lactone influences nodule numbers in M. truncatula via an ethylene-dependent, but autoregulation-independent mechanism.
Project description:The maintenance of genetic variation in mutualism-related traits is key for understanding mutualism evolution, yet the mechanisms maintaining variation remain unclear. We asked whether genotype-by-environment (G×E) interaction is a potential mechanism maintaining variation in the model legume-rhizobia system, <i>Medicago truncatula-Ensifer meliloti</i>. We planted 50 legume genotypes in a greenhouse under ambient light and shade to reflect reduced carbon availability for plants. We found an expected reduction under shaded conditions for plant performance traits, such as leaf number, aboveground and belowground biomass, and a mutualism-related trait, nodule number. We also found G×E for nodule number, with ?83% of this interaction due to shifts in genotype fitness rank order across light environments, coupled with strong positive directional selection on nodule number regardless of light environment. Our results suggest that G×E can maintain genetic variation in a mutualism-related trait that is under consistent positive directional selection across light environments.
Project description:Genetic variation for partner quality in mutualisms is an evolutionary paradox. One possible resolution to this puzzle is that there is a tradeoff between partner quality and other fitness-related traits. Here, we tested whether susceptibility to parasitism is one such tradeoff in the mutualism between legumes and nitrogen-fixing bacteria (rhizobia). We performed two greenhouse experiments with the legume Medicago truncatula. In the first, we inoculated each plant with the rhizobia Ensifer meliloti and with one of 40 genotypes of the parasitic root-knot nematode Meloidogyne hapla. In the second experiment, we inoculated all plants with rhizobia and half of the plants with a genetically variable population of nematodes. Using the number of nematode galls as a proxy for infection severity, we found that plant genotypes differed in susceptibility to nematode infection, and nematode genotypes differed in infectivity. Second, we showed that there was a genetic correlation between the number of mutualistic structures formed by rhizobia (nodules) and the number of parasitic structures formed by nematodes (galls). Finally, we found that nematodes disrupt the rhizobia mutualism: nematode-infected plants formed fewer nodules and had less nodule biomass than uninfected plants. Our results demonstrate that there is genetic conflict between attracting rhizobia and repelling nematodes in Medicago. If genetic conflict with parasitism is a general feature of mutualism, it could account for the maintenance of genetic variation in partner quality and influence the evolutionary dynamics of positive species interactions.
Project description:Most legume species establish a symbiotic association with soil bacteria. The plant accommodates the differentiated rhizobia in specialized organs, the root nodules. In this environment, the microsymbiont reduces atmospheric nitrogen (N) making it available for plant metabolism. Symbiotic N-fixation is driven by the respiration of the host photosynthates and thus constitutes an additional carbon sink for the plant. Molecular phenotypes of symbiotic and non-symbiotic Medicago truncatula are identified. The implication of nodule symbiosis on plant abiotic stress response mechanisms is not well understood. In this study, we exposed nodulated and non-symbiotic N-fertilized plants to salt and drought conditions. We assessed the stress effects with proteomic and metabolomic methods and found a nutritionally regulated phenotypic plasticity pivotal for a differential stress adjustment strategy.
Project description:The costs and benefits that define gain from trade in resource mutualisms depend on resource availability. Optimal partitioning theory predicts that allocation to direct uptake <i>versus</i> trade will be determined by both the relative benefit of the resource acquired through trade and the relative cost of the resource being traded away. While the costs and benefits of carbon:nitrogen exchange in the legume-rhizobia symbiosis have been examined in depth with regards to mineral nitrogen availability, the effects of varying carbon costs are rarely considered. Using a growth chamber experiment, we measured plant growth and symbiosis investment in the model legume <i>Medicago truncatula</i> and its symbiont <i>Ensifer medicae</i> across varying nitrogen and light environments. We demonstrate that plants modulate their allocation to roots and nodules as their return on investment varies according to external nitrogen and carbon availabilities. We find empirical evidence that plant allocation to nodules responds to carbon availability, but that this depends upon the nitrogen environment. In particular, at low nitrogen-where rhizobia provided the majority of nitrogen for plant growth-relative nodule allocation increased when carbon limitation was alleviated with high light levels. Legumes' context-dependent modulation of resource allocation to rhizobia thus prevents this interaction from becoming parasitic even in low-light, high-nitrogen environments where carbon is costly and nitrogen is readily available.
Project description:Zinc (Zn) is an essential nutrient for plants that is involved in almost every biological process. This includes symbiotic nitrogen fixation, a process carried out by endosymbiotic bacteria (rhizobia) living within differentiated plant cells of legume root nodules. Zn transport in nodules involves delivery from the root, via the vasculature, release into the apoplast and uptake into nodule cells. Once in the cytosol, Zn can be used directly by cytosolic proteins or delivered into organelles, including symbiosomes of infected cells, by Zn efflux transporters. Medicago truncatula MtMTP2 (Medtr4g064893) is a nodule-induced Zn-efflux protein that was localized to an intracellular compartment in root epidermal and endodermal cells, as well as in nodule cells. Although the MtMTP2 gene is expressed in roots, shoots, and nodules, mtp2 mutants exhibited growth defects only under symbiotic, nitrogen-fixing conditions. Loss of MtMTP2 function resulted in altered nodule development, defects in bacteroid differentiation, and severe reduction of nitrogenase activity. The results presented here support a role of MtMTP2 in intracellular compartmentation of Zn, which is required for effective symbiotic nitrogen fixation in M. truncatula.
Project description:Host compatible rhizobia induce the formation of legume root nodules, symbiotic organs within which intracellular bacteria are present in plant-derived membrane compartments termed symbiosomes. In Medicago truncatula nodules, the Sinorhizobium microsymbionts undergo an irreversible differentiation process leading to the development of elongated polyploid noncultivable nitrogen fixing bacteroids that convert atmospheric dinitrogen into ammonia. This terminal differentiation is directed by the host plant and involves hundreds of nodule specific cysteine-rich peptides (NCRs). Except for certain in vitro activities of cationic peptides, the functional roles of individual NCR peptides in planta are not known. In this study, we demonstrate that the inability of M. truncatula dnf7 mutants to fix nitrogen is due to inactivation of a single NCR peptide, NCR169. In the absence of NCR169, bacterial differentiation was impaired and was associated with early senescence of the symbiotic cells. Introduction of the NCR169 gene into the dnf7-2/NCR169 deletion mutant restored symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Replacement of any of the cysteine residues in the NCR169 peptide with serine rendered it incapable of complementation, demonstrating an absolute requirement for all cysteines in planta. NCR169 was induced in the cell layers in which bacteroid elongation was most pronounced, and high expression persisted throughout the nitrogen-fixing nodule zone. Our results provide evidence for an essential role of NCR169 in the differentiation and persistence of nitrogen fixing bacteroids in M. truncatula.
Project description:Root nodules are the symbiotic organ of legumes that house nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Many genes are specifically induced in nodules during the interactions between the host plant and symbiotic rhizobia. Information regarding the regulation of expression for most of these genes is lacking. One of the largest gene families expressed in the nodules of the model legume Medicago truncatula is the nodule cysteine-rich (NCR) group of defensin-like (DEFL) genes. We used a custom Affymetrix microarray to catalog the expression changes of 566 NCRs at different stages of nodule development. Additionally, bacterial mutants were used to understand the importance of the rhizobial partners in induction of NCRs. Expression of early NCRs was detected during the initial infection of rhizobia in nodules and expression continued as nodules became mature. Late NCRs were induced concomitantly with bacteroid development in the nodules. The induction of early and late NCRs was correlated with the number and morphology of rhizobia in the nodule. Conserved 41 to 50 bp motifs identified in the upstream 1,000 bp promoter regions of NCRs were required for promoter activity. These cis-element motifs were found to be unique to the NCR family among all annotated genes in the M. truncatula genome, although they contain sub-regions with clear similarity to known regulatory motifs involved in nodule-specific expression and temporal gene regulation.
Project description:Primary infection of legumes by rhizobia involves the controlled localized enzymatic breakdown of cell walls at root hair tips. Previous studies determined the role of rhizobial CelC2 cellulase in different steps of the symbiotic interaction Rhizobium leguminosarum-Trifolium repens. Recent findings also showed that CelC2 influences early signalling events in the Ensifer meliloti-Medicago truncatula interaction. Here, we have monitored the root hair phenotypes of two legume plants, T. repens and M. sativa, upon inoculation with strains of their cognate and non-cognate rhizobial species, R. leguminosarum bv trifolii and E. meliloti, (over)expressing the CelC2 coding gene, celC. Regardless of the host, CelC2 specifically elicited 'hole-on-the-tip' events (Hot phenotype) in the root hair apex, consistent with the role of this endoglucanase in eroding the noncrystalline cellulose found in polarly growing cell walls. Overproduction of CelC2 also increased root hair tip redirections (RaT phenotype) events in both cognate and non-cognate hosts. Interestingly, heterologous celC expression also induced non-canonical alterations in ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) homeostasis at root hair tips of Trifolium and Medicago. These results suggest the concurrence of shared unspecific and host-related plant responses to CelC2 during early steps of symbiotic rhizobial infection. Our data thus identify CelC2 cellulase as an important determinant of events underlying early infection of the legume host by rhizobia.