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  1. Metaproteomics is a powerful tool for the characterization of metabolism, physiology, and functional interactions in microbial communities, including plant-associated microbiota. However, the metaproteomic methods that have been used to study plant-associated microbiota are very laborious and require large amounts of plant tissue, hindering wider application of these methods. We optimized and evaluated different protein extraction methods for metaproteomics of plant-associated microbiota in two different plant species ( Arabidopsis and maize). Our main goal was to identify a method that would work with low amounts of input material (40 to 70 mg) and that would maximize the number of identified microbial proteins. We tested eight protocols, each comprising a different combination of physical lysis method, extraction buffer, and cell-enrichment method on roots from plants grown with synthetic microbial communities. We assessed the performance of the extraction protocols by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry–based metaproteomics and found that the optimal extraction method differed between the two species. For Arabidopsis roots, protein extraction by beating whole roots with small beads provided the greatest number of identified microbial proteins and improved the identification of proteins from gram-positive bacteria. For maize, vortexing root pieces in the presence of large glass beads yielded the greatest number ofmore »microbial proteins identified. Based on these data, we recommend the use of these two methods for metaproteomics with Arabidopsis and maize. Furthermore, detailed descriptions of the eight tested protocols will enable future optimization of protein extraction for metaproteomics in other dicot and monocot plants. [Formula: see text] Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the CC BY 4.0 International license .« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  2. Abstract

    Chemical signalling in the plant microbiome can have drastic effects on microbial community structure, and on host growth and development. Previously, we demonstrated that the auxin metabolic signal interference performed by the bacterial genusVariovoraxvia an auxin degradation locus was essential for maintaining stereotypic root development in an ecologically relevant bacterial synthetic community. Here, we dissect theVariovoraxauxin degradation locus to define the genesiadDEas necessary and sufficient for indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) degradation and signal interference. We determine the crystal structures and binding properties of the operon’s MarR-family repressor with IAA and other auxins. Auxin degradation operons were identified across the bacterial tree of life and we define two distinct types on the basis of gene content and metabolic products:iac-like andiad-like. The structures of MarRs from representatives of each auxin degradation operon type establish that each has distinct IAA-binding pockets. Comparison of representative IAA-degrading strains from diverse bacterial genera colonizingArabidopsisplants show that while all degrade IAA, only strains containingiad-like auxin-degrading operons interfere with auxin signalling in a complex synthetic community context. This suggests thatiad-like operon-containing bacterial strains, includingVariovoraxspecies, play a key ecological role in modulating auxins in the plant microbiome.

  3. Abstract

    Drought is a major abiotic stress limiting agricultural productivity. Previous field-level experiments have demonstrated that drought decreases microbiome diversity in the root and rhizosphere. How these changes ultimately affect plant health remains elusive. Toward this end, we combined reductionist, transitional and ecological approaches, applied to the staple cereal crop sorghum to identify key root-associated microbes that robustly affect drought-stressed plant phenotypes. Fifty-threeArabidopsis-associated bacteria were applied to sorghum seeds and their effect on root growth was monitored. TwoArthrobacterstrains caused root growth inhibition (RGI) inArabidopsisand sorghum. In the context of synthetic communities,Variovoraxstrains were able to protect plants fromArthrobacter-caused RGI. As a transitional system, high-throughput phenotyping was used to test the synthetic communities. During drought stress, plants colonized byArthrobacterhad reduced growth and leaf water content. Plants colonized by bothArthrobacterandVariovoraxperformed as well or better than control plants. In parallel, we performed a field trial wherein sorghum was evaluated across drought conditions. By incorporating data on soil properties into the microbiome analysis, we accounted for experimental noise with a novel method and were able to observe the negative correlation between the abundance ofArthrobacterand plant growth. Having validated this approach, we cross-referenced datasets from the high-throughput phenotyping and field experiments and report a list ofmore »bacteria with high confidence that positively associated with plant growth under drought stress. In conclusion, a three-tiered experimental system successfully spanned the lab-to-field gap and identified beneficial and deleterious bacterial strains for sorghum under drought.

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  4. Methodological advances over the past two decades have propelled plant microbiome research, allowing the field to comprehensively test ideas proposed over a century ago and generate many new hypotheses. Studying the distribution of microbial taxa and genes across plant habitats has revealed the importance of various ecological and evolutionary forces shaping plant microbiota. In particular, selection imposed by plant habitats strongly shapes the diversity and composition of microbiota and leads to microbial adaptation associated with navigating the plant immune system and utilizing plant-derived resources. Reductionist approaches have demonstrated that the interaction between plant immunity and the plant microbiome is, in fact, bidirectional and that plants, microbiota, and the environment shape a complex chemical dialogue that collectively orchestrates the plantmicrobiome. The next stage in plant microbiome research will require the integration of ecological and reductionist approaches to establish a general understanding of the assembly and function in both natural and managed environments.
  5. Fischer, Reinhard (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Glyphosate is a commonly used herbicide with a broad action spectrum. However, at sublethal doses, glyphosate can induce plant growth, a phenomenon known as hormesis. Most glyphosate hormesis studies have been performed under microbe-free or reduced-microbial-diversity conditions; only a few were performed in open systems or agricultural fields, which include a higher diversity of soil microorganisms. Here, we investigated how microbes affect the hormesis induced by low doses of glyphosate. To this end, we used Arabidopsis thaliana and a well-characterized synthetic bacterial community of 185 strains (SynCom) that mimics the root-associated microbiome of Arabidopsis . We found that a dose of 3.6 × 10 −6 g acid equivalent/liter (low dose of glyphosate, or LDG) produced an ∼14% increase in the shoot dry weight (i.e., hormesis) of uninoculated plants. Unexpectedly, in plants inoculated with the SynCom, LDG reduced shoot dry weight by ∼17%. We found that LDG enriched two Firmicutes and two Burkholderia strains in the roots. These specific strains are known to act as root growth inhibitors (RGI) in monoassociation assays. We tested the link between RGI and shoot dry weight reduction in LDG by assembling a new synthetic community lacking RGI strains. Dropping RGI strains out of the community restoredmore »growth induction by LDG. Finally, we showed that individual RGI strains from a few specific phyla were sufficient to switch the response to LDG from growth promotion to growth inhibition. Our results indicate that glyphosate hormesis was completely dependent on the root microbiome composition, specifically on the presence of root growth inhibitor strains. IMPORTANCE Since the introduction of glyphosate-resistant crops, glyphosate has become the most common and widely used herbicide around the world. Due to its intensive use and ability to bind to soil particles, it can be found at low concentrations in the environment. The effect of these remnants of glyphosate in plants has not been broadly studied; however, glyphosate 1,000 to 100,000 times less concentrated than the recommended field dose promoted growth in several species in laboratory and greenhouse experiments. However, this effect is rarely observed in agricultural fields, where complex communities of microbes have a central role in the way plants respond to external cues. Our study reveals how root-associated bacteria modulate the responses of Arabidopsis to low doses of glyphosate, shifting between growth promotion and growth inhibition.« less
  6. Plants have an innate immune system to fight off potential invaders that is based on the perception of nonself or modified-self molecules. Microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) are evolutionarily conserved microbial molecules whose extracellular detection by specific cell surface receptors initiates an array of biochemical responses collectively known as MAMP-triggered immunity (MTI). Well-characterized MAMPs include chitin, peptidoglycan, and flg22, a 22-amino acid epitope found in the major building block of the bacterial flagellum, FliC. The importance of MAMP detection by the plant immune system is underscored by the large diversity of strategies used by pathogens to interfere with MTI and that failure to do so is often associated with loss of virulence. Yet, whether or how MTI functions beyond pathogenic interactions is not well understood. Here we demonstrate that a community of root commensal bacteria modulates a specific and evolutionarily conserved sector of theArabidopsisimmune system. We identify a set of robust, taxonomically diverse MTI suppressor strains that are efficient root colonizers and, notably, can enhance the colonization capacity of other tested commensal bacteria. We highlight the importance of extracellular strategies for MTI suppression by showing that the type 2, not the type 3, secretion system is required for the immunomodulatory activitymore »of one robust MTI suppressor. Our findings reveal that root colonization by commensals is controlled by MTI, which, in turn, can be selectively modulated by specific members of a representative bacterial root microbiota.

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