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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Raleigh, North Carolina » Plant Science Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #364053

Research Project: Genetics of Disease Resistance and Food Quality Traits in Corn

Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Analysis of leaf microbiome composition of near-isogenic maize lines differing in broad-spectrum disease resistance

item WAGNER, MARGARET - North Carolina State University
item BUSBY, POSY - Oregon State University
item Balint-Kurti, Peter

Submitted to: New Phytologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2019
Publication Date: 10/28/2019
Citation: Wagner, M., Busby, P., Balint Kurti, P.J. 2019. Analysis of leaf microbiome composition of near-isogenic maize lines differing in broad-spectrum disease resistance. New Phytologist. 225:2152-2165.

Interpretive Summary: The microbiome of a multi-cellular organisms can be defined as the community of microbes that inhabit that organism. In this study we investigate the microbiome of the maize. We show that the presence of genes for disease resistance can affect the composition of the maize microbiome.

Technical Abstract: Leaf-associated microbes can drastically affect disease severity, and host genotype can influence the diversity and composition of the leaf microbiome. However, these processes have not been studied and linked in the context of breeding for improved disease resistance. Here, we demonstrate that breeding for broad-spectrum disease resistance alters leaf microbiome composition in field-grown maize. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) conferring resistance to multiple fungal pathogens were introgressed into a disease-susceptible genetic background; microbiome composition of the resulting near-isogenic lines was then compared to that of the original susceptible parent line. Disease-resistance QTL shifted the relative abundance of diverse fungal and bacterial taxa by up to 1000-fold in both 3-week-old and 7-week-old plants. The magnitude of these effects varied among fields and years; however, host genotype effects were not any stronger in fields with high disease pressure than in uninfected fields. Overall, our results suggest that QTL for broad-spectrum disease resistance have direct pleiotropic effects on the establishment of the leaf microbiome in maize. Additional manipulative experiments will be needed to determine the consequences, if any, for plant health and disease resistance.