Regional Differences in the Structure of Juglans nigra Phytobiome Reflect Geographical Differences in Thousand Cankers Disease Severity
Aaron J. Onufrak, Geoffrey M. Williams, William E. Klingeman III, Melissa A. Cregger, Dawn M. Klingeman, Jennifer M. DeBruyn, Matthew D. Ginzel, and Denita Hadziabdic
21 September 2020; Phytobiomes Journal 4(4): 388-404; doi: 10.1094/PBIOMES-05-20-0044-R
Thousand cankers disease threatens Juglans nigra (Eastern Black Walnut) in urban and natural landscapes. Incidence and severity of thousand cankers disease is higher in the host’s introduced range in the western United States. We hypothesized that these differences are driven partly by geographical variation in the host phytobiome due to its roles in host stress tolerance, nutrient acquisition, and defense. To evaluate the role of the phytobiome in mediating thousand cankers disease, we characterized the J. nigra phytobiome of diseased and healthy trees in portions of its native (Indiana and Tennessee) and introduced (Washington) ranges. Grafted clones present in each state and open-pollinated populations were sampled. DNA was extracted from soil and branch (caulosphere) tissues and internal transcribed spacer and 16s regions were sequenced for characterization of fungal and bacterial communities. We found that microbial communities in the caulosphere and soil differ between native and introduced ranges of J. nigra and harbor different mutualistic and pathogenic microorganisms. Additionally, caulosphere microbial communities were more species rich and diverse in the native range of J. nigra, suggesting greater levels of functional redundancy and multifunctionality in the native-range phytobiome compared with the introduced range. We also found higher network complexity in the caulosphere of trees in the introduced range and evidence for two alternative stable community states associated with diseased and healthy trees. Our results provide support for the hypothesis that geographical variation in thousand cankers disease incidence and severity is partially driven by differences in the phytobiome of J. nigra in its introduced and native ranges.