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  1. Microbial communities are known as the primary decomposers of all the carbon accumulated in the soil. However, how important soil structure and its conventional or organic management, moisture content, and how different plant species impact this process are less understood. To answer these questions, we generated a soil microcosm with decomposing corn and soy leaves, as well as soil adjacent to the leaves, and compared it to control samples. We then used high-throughput amplicon sequencing of the ITS and 16S rDNA regions to characterize these microbiomes. Leaf microbiomes were the least diverse and the most even in terms of OTU richness and abundance compared to near soil and far soil, especially in their bacterial component. Microbial composition was significantly and primarily affected by niche (leaves vs. soil) but also by soil management type and plant species in the fungal microbiome, while moisture content and pore sizes were more important drivers for the bacterial communities. The pore size effect was significantly dependent on moisture content, but only in the organic management type. Overall, our results refine our understanding of the decomposition of carbon residues in the soil and the factors that influence it, which are key for environmental sustainability and formore »evaluating changes in ecosystem functions.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 14, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Truffle growers devote great efforts to improve black truffle productivity, developing agronomic practices such as ‘truffle nests’ (peat amendments that are supplemented with truffle spore inoculum). It has been hypothesized that improved fruiting associated with nests is linked to stimulation of truffle mycelia previously established in soil or to changes generated in soil fungal community. To assess this, we used real-time PCR to quantify black truffle extraradical mycelium during 2 years after nests installation. We also characterized the fungal community via high-throughput amplicon sequencing of the ITS region of rRNA genes. We found that neither the abundance of truffle mycelium in nests nor in the soil—nest interphase was higher than in the bulk soil, which indicates that nests do not improve mycelial growth. The fungal community in nests showed lower richness and Shannon index and was compositionally different from that of soil, which suggests that nests may act as an open niche for fungal colonization that facilitates truffle fruiting. The ectomycorrhizal fungal community showed lower richness in nests. However, no negative relationships between amount of truffle mycelium and reads of other ectomycorrhizal fungi were found, thus countering the hypothesis that ectomycorrhizal competition plays a role in the nest effect.

  3. Abstract

    Diverse members of early-diverging Mucoromycota, including mycorrhizal taxa and soil-associated Mortierellaceae, are known to harbor Mollicutes-related endobacteria (MRE). It has been hypothesized that MRE were acquired by a common ancestor and transmitted vertically. Alternatively, MRE endosymbionts could have invaded after the divergence of Mucoromycota lineages and subsequently spread to new hosts horizontally. To better understand the evolutionary history of MRE symbionts, we generated and analyzed four complete MRE genomes from two Mortierellaceae genera:Linnemannia(MRE-L) andBenniella(MRE-B). These genomes include the smallest known of fungal endosymbionts and showed signals of a tight relationship with hosts including a reduced functional capacity and genes transferred from fungal hosts to MRE. Phylogenetic reconstruction including nine MRE from mycorrhizal fungi revealed that MRE-B genomes are more closely related to MRE from Glomeromycotina than MRE-L from the same host family. We posit that reductions in genome size, GC content, pseudogene content, and repeat content in MRE-L may reflect a longer-term relationship with their fungal hosts. These data indicateLinnemanniaandBenniellaMRE were likely acquired independently after their fungal hosts diverged from a common ancestor. This work expands upon foundational knowledge on minimal genomes and provides insights into the evolution of bacterial endosymbionts.

  4. Abstract Background

    Root and soil microbial communities constitute the below-ground plant microbiome, are drivers of nutrient cycling, and affect plant productivity. However, our understanding of their spatiotemporal patterns is confounded by exogenous factors that covary spatially, such as changes in host plant species, climate, and edaphic factors. These spatiotemporal patterns likely differ across microbiome domains (bacteria and fungi) and niches (root vs. soil).


    To capture spatial patterns at a regional scale, we sampled the below-ground microbiome of switchgrass monocultures of five sites spanning > 3 degrees of latitude within the Great Lakes region. To capture temporal patterns, we sampled the below-ground microbiome across the growing season within a single site. We compared the strength of spatiotemporal factors to nitrogen addition determining the major drivers in our perennial cropping system. All microbial communities were most strongly structured by sampling site, though collection date also had strong effects; in contrast, nitrogen addition had little to no effect on communities. Though all microbial communities were found to have significant spatiotemporal patterns, sampling site and collection date better explained bacterial than fungal community structure, which appeared more defined by stochastic processes. Root communities, especially bacterial, were more temporally structured than soil communities which were more spatially structured,more »both across and within sampling sites. Finally, we characterized a core set of taxa in the switchgrass microbiome that persists across space and time. These core taxa represented < 6% of total species richness but > 27% of relative abundance, with potential nitrogen fixing bacteria and fungal mutualists dominating the root community and saprotrophs dominating the soil community.


    Our results highlight the dynamic variability of plant microbiome composition and assembly across space and time, even within a single variety of a plant species. Root and soil fungal community compositions appeared spatiotemporally paired, while root and soil bacterial communities showed a temporal lag in compositional similarity suggesting active recruitment of soil bacteria into the root niche throughout the growing season. A better understanding of the drivers of these differential responses to space and time may improve our ability to predict microbial community structure and function under novel conditions.

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  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 25, 2024
  6. Dong, Xinnian (Ed.)
    Leaf fungal microbiomes can be fundamental drivers of host plant success, as they contain pathogens that devastate crop plants and taxa that enhance nutrient uptake, discourage herbivory, and antagonize pathogens. We measured leaf fungal diversity with amplicon sequencing across an entire growing season in a diversity panel of switchgrass ( Panicum virgatum ). We also sampled a replicated subset of genotypes across 3 additional sites to compare the importance of time, space, ecology, and genetics. We found a strong successional pattern in the microbiome shaped both by host genetics and environmental factors. Further, we used genome-wide association (GWA) mapping and RNA sequencing to show that 3 cysteine-rich receptor-like kinases (crRLKs) were linked to a genetic locus associated with microbiome structure. We confirmed GWAS results in an independent set of genotypes for both the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and large subunit (LSU) ribosomal DNA markers. Fungal pathogens were central to microbial covariance networks, and genotypes susceptible to pathogens differed in their expression of the 3 crRLKs, suggesting that host immune genes are a principal means of controlling the entire leaf microbiome.
  7. Sarrocco, Sabrina (Ed.)
    Harnessing the plant microbiome has the potential to improve agricultural yields and protect plants against pathogens and/or abiotic stresses, while also relieving economic and environmental costs of crop production. While previous studies have gained valuable insights into the underlying genetics facilitating plant-fungal interactions, these have largely been skewed towards certain fungal clades (e.g. arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi). Several different phyla of fungi have been shown to positively impact plant growth rates, including Mortierellaceae fungi. However, the extent of the plant growth promotion (PGP) phenotype(s), their underlying mechanism(s), and the impact of bacterial endosymbionts on fungal-plant interactions remain poorly understood for Mortierellaceae. In this study, we focused on the symbiosis between soil fungus Linnemannia elongata (Mortierellaceae) and Arabidopsis thaliana (Brassicaceae), as both organisms have high-quality reference genomes and transcriptomes available, and their lifestyles and growth requirements are conducive to research conditions. Further, L . elongata can host bacterial endosymbionts related to Mollicutes and Burkholderia . The role of these endobacteria on facilitating fungal-plant associations, including potentially further promoting plant growth, remains completely unexplored. We measured Arabidopsis aerial growth at early and late life stages, seed production, and used mRNA sequencing to characterize differentially expressed plant genes in response to fungal inoculation withmore »and without bacterial endosymbionts. We found that L . elongata improved aerial plant growth, seed mass and altered the plant transcriptome, including the upregulation of genes involved in plant hormones and “response to oxidative stress”, “defense response to bacterium”, and “defense response to fungus”. Furthermore, the expression of genes in certain phytohormone biosynthetic pathways were found to be modified in plants treated with L . elongata . Notably, the presence of Mollicutes- or Burkholderia- related endosymbionts in Linnemannia did not impact the expression of genes in Arabidopsis or overall growth rates. Together, these results indicate that beneficial plant growth promotion and seed mass impacts of L . elongata on Arabidopsis are likely driven by plant hormone and defense transcription responses after plant-fungal contact, and that plant phenotypic and transcriptional responses are independent of whether the fungal symbiont is colonized by Mollicutes or Burkholderia -related endohyphal bacteria.« less
  8. The process of fermenting tofu extends back thousands of years and is an indispensable part of Chinese culture. Despite a cultural resurgence in fermented foods and interest in microbiomes, there is little knowledge on the microbial diversity represented in fermented ‘hairy’ tofu, known locally in China as Mao tofu. High-throughput metagenomic sequencing of the ITS, LSU and 16S rDNA was used to determine Mao tofu’s fungal and bacterial community diversity across four wet markets in Yunnan, China. The results show that hairy tofu in this region consists of around 170 fungal and 365 bacterial taxa, and that microbial taxa differ between markets. Diversity also differed based on the specific niche of the tofu block, comparing the outside rind-like niche to that of the inside of the tofu block. Machine learning random forest models were able to accurately classify both the market and niche of sample origin. An over-abundance of yeast and Geotrichum was found, and Mucor (Mucoromycota) was abundant in the outside rind-like niche, which consists of the visible ‘hairy’ mycelium. The majority of the bacterial OTUs belonged to Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Bacteroidetes, with Acinetobacter, Lactobacillus, Sphingobacterium and Flavobacterium the most abundant genera. Putative fungal pathogens of plants (Cercospora, Diaporthe,more »Fusarium) and animals (Metarhizium, Entomomortierella, Pyxidiophora, Candida, Clavispora) were also detected, as were putative bacterial pathogens identified as Legionella. Non-fungal eukaryotic taxa detected by LSU amplicon sequencing included soybean (Glycine max), Protozoa, Metazoa (e.g., Nematoda and Platyhelminthes), Rhizaria and Chromista, indicating that additional biodiversity exists in the hairy tofu microbiome.« less