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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Genetic Improvement for Fruits & Vegetables Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #349074

Title: Microbial communities in blueberry soils

item Polashock, James
item Kawash, Joseph
item OUDEMANS, PETER - Rutgers University

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/8/2018
Publication Date: 2/6/2018
Citation: Polashock, J.J., Kawash, J.K., Oudemans, P.V. 2018. Microbial communities in blueberry soils. 63rd New Jersey Agricultural Convention and Trade Show. 171.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Microbial communities thrive in the soil of the plant root zone and it is clear that these communities play a role in plant health. Although blueberry fields can be productive for decades, yields are sometimes below expectations and fields that are replanted sometimes underperform and/or take too long to establish. Declining soil health likely contributes to reduced yields and poor vigor of replanted fields. Traditionally, measurements of soil health are limited to nutrient analysis and physical characteristics. Yet, the soils are ‘alive’ and an understanding of the living organisms in the soil can be just as important as nutrient analysis. To determine the inhabitants of the soils in the root zone of blueberry plants in commercial fields, we collected soil samples from 30 fields in Burlington and Atlantic counties. DNA was isolated from the soil and barcode regions of the DNA were selectively amplified. The barcode is a small fragment of DNA that can be used to identify the organism from which it was extracted. The fragments were then sequenced and the sequences were compared to extensive databases to identify the organisms from which the DNA was derived. The results from all samples were compiled to determine the ‘core’ microbial community associated with commercial blueberry culture. Establishing the ‘core’ is a prerequisite to determine how deviations from the core assemblage of organisms affect plant health. Assays to rapidly detect those found to impact plant health will be developed.