Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/20/2018
Publication Date: 7/20/2018
Citation: Bakker, M.G. 2018. The foliar microbiome of intermediate wheatgrass [abstract].
Technical Abstract: Despite its long history of use as a forage grass, Thinopyrum intermedium (intermediate wheatgrass) has only very recently been used as a grain for human food (Kernza™). Breeding for this new use is rapidly shifting T. intermedium phenotypes, and new agronomic systems are being developed for the production of this grain. Together, these factors motivate a detailed look at the T. intermedium phyllosphere microbiome: which microorganisms are associated with T. intermedium, and does this information suggest anything about disease challenges that may lie ahead for this emerging crop? We drew samples (whole tillers) from three existing field experiments, in Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York. These experiments included treatments related to biomass harvest (for dual use of the crop in both forage and grain production) and nitrogen fertility. We profiled microbiomes associated with aboveground T. intermedium tissues at each site, using amplicon sequencing. For both bacterial and fungal communities, samples could be readily differentiated by state of origin. Variation in phyllosphere microbiome characteristics among locations where T. intermedium is grown may carry implications for disease dynamics. Several potential pathogens were present in association with T. intermedium tillers, including Fusarium, Claviceps, Alternaria, Mycosphaerella, and Xanthomonas. The presence of these taxa may suggest likely disease issues that growers of T. intermedium will face. However, additional observation and experimentation will be necessary, as it is not possible to confidently extrapolate from marker gene sequences to particular microbial life history strategies or functional outcomes. More attention is warranted on the phytopathology and microbiome dynamics of this novel system in which a perennial grass, under active contemporary domestication, is used to produce grain for human consumption.