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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Plant Gene Expression Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #382555

Research Project: Discovery of Plant Genetic Mechanisms Controlling Microbial Recruitment to the Root Microbiome

Location: Plant Gene Expression Center

Title: Agricultural soil management practices differentially shape the bacterial and fungal microbiome of Sorghum bicolor

item WIPF, HEIDI - University Of California
item XU, LING - University Of California
item GAO, CHENG - University Of California
item SPINNER, HANNAH - University Of California
item TAYLOR, JOHN - University Of California
item LEMAUX, PEGGY - University Of California
item MITCHELL, JEFFERY - University Of California, Davis
item Coleman-Derr, Devin

Submitted to: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/11/2020
Publication Date: 2/12/2021
Citation: Wipf, H., Xu, L., Gao, C., Spinner, H., Taylor, J., Lemaux, P., Mitchell, J., Coleman-Derr, D.A. 2021. Agricultural soil management practices differentially shape the bacterial and fungal microbiome of Sorghum bicolor. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 87(5).

Interpretive Summary: Soils play important roles in biological productivity. While numerous studies show that farming practices can influence the soil microbiome, there are often conflicting results on how microbial diversity and activity respond to treatment. In addition, there is very little work published on how the corresponding crop plant microbiome is impacted. With bacteria and fungi known to critically affect soil health and plant growth, we concurrently compared how the practices of no and standard tillage, in combination with either cover-cropping or fallow fields, shape soil and plant-associated microbiomes between the two classifications. In determining not only the response to treatment in microbial diversity and composition, but for activity as well, this work demonstrates the significance of agronomic practice in modulating plant-microbe interactions, as well as encourages future work on the mechanisms involved in community assemblages supporting similar crop outcomes.

Technical Abstract: Soils play important roles in biological productivity. While past work suggests that microbes affect soil health and respond to agricultural practices, it is not well known how soil management shapes crop host microbiomes. To elucidate the impact of management on microbial composition and function in the sorghum microbiome, we performed 16S rRNA gene and ITS2 amplicon sequencing and metatranscriptomics on soil and root samples collected from a site in California's San Joaquin Valley that is under long-term cultivation with 1) standard (ST) or no tilling (NT) and 2) cover-cropping (CC) or leaving the field fallow (NO). Our results revealed that microbial diversity, composition, and function change across tillage and cover type, with a heightened response in fungal communities, versus bacterial. Surprisingly, ST harbored greater microbial alpha diversity than NT, indicating that tillage may open niche spaces for broad colonization. Across management regimes, we observed class-level taxonomic level shifts. Additionally, we found significant functional restructuring across treatments, including enrichment for microbial lipid and carbohydrate transport and metabolism and cell motility with NT. Differences in carbon cycling were also observed, with increased prevalence of glycosyltransferase and glycoside hydrolase carbohydrate active enzyme families with CC. Lastly, treatment significantly influenced arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which had the greatest prevalence and activity under ST, suggesting that soil practices mediate known beneficial plant-microbe relationships. Collectively, our results demonstrate how agronomic practices impact critical interactions within the plant microbiome and inform future efforts to configure trait-associated microbiomes in crops.