Microbiome variation across two hemlock species with hemlock woolly adelgid infestation
Nicholas C. Dove, Timothy J. Rogers, Christy Leppanen, Daniel Simberloff, James A. Fordyce, Veronica A. Brown, Anthony V. LeBude, Thomas G. Ranney, and Melissa A. Cregger
7 Jul 2020, Frontiers in Microbiology 11: 1528; doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.01528
The hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae, HWA), an invasive insect, is devastating native hemlock populations in eastern North America, and management outcomes have so far had limited success. While many plant microbiomes influence and even support plant immune responses to insect herbivory, relatively little is known about the hemlock microbiome and its interactions with pathogens or herbivores such as HWA. Using 16S rRNA and ITS gene amplicon sequencing, we characterized the needle, branch, root, and rhizosphere microbiome of two hemlock species, Tsuga canadensis and T. sieboldii, that displayed low and high levels of HWA populations. We found that both archaeal/bacterial and fungal needle communities, as well as the archaeal/bacterial branch and root communities, varied in composition in both hemlock species relative to HWA population levels. While host species and plant-associated habitats explained a greater proportion of the variance in the microbiome than did HWA population level, high HWA populations were associated with enrichment of 100 likely fungal pathogen sequence variants across the four plant-associated habitats (e.g., needle, branch, root, rhizosphere) compared to trees with lower HWA populations. This work contributes to a growing body of literature linking plant pathogens and pests with the changes in the associated plant microbiome and host health. Furthermore, this work demonstrates the need to further investigate plant microbiome effects across multiple plant tissues to understand their influences on host health.