Veach, A. M., et al. 2019. Microbiome

Rhizosphere microbiomes diverge among Populus trichocarpa plant-host genotypes and chemotypes, but it depends on soil origin

Allison M. Veach, Reese Morris, Daniel Z. Yip, Zamin K. Yang, Nancy L. Engle, Melissa A. Cregger, Timothy J. Tschaplinski, and Christopher W. Schadt
18 May 2019, Microbiome 2019 7(1):76; doi: 10.1186/s40168-019-0668-8


Background: Plants have developed defense strategies for phytopathogen and herbivore protection via coordinated metabolic mechanisms. Low-molecular weight metabolites produced within plant tissues, such as salicylic acid, represent one such mechanism which likely mediates plant – microbe interactions above and belowground. Salicylic acid is a ubiquitous phytohormone at low levels in most plants, yet are concentrated defense compounds in Populus, likely acting as a selective filter for rhizosphere microbiomes. We propagated twelve Populus trichocarpa genotypes which varied an order of magnitude in salicylic acid (SA)-related secondary metabolites, in contrasting soils from two different origins. After four months of growth, plant properties (leaf growth, chlorophyll content, and net photosynthetic rate) and plant root metabolomics specifically targeting SA metabolites were measured via GC-MS. In addition, rhizosphere microbiome composition was measured via Illumina MiSeq sequencing of 16S and ITS2 rRNA-genes.

Results: Soil origin was the primary filter causing divergence in bacterial/archaeal and fungal communities with plant genotype secondarily influential. Both bacterial/archaeal and fungal evenness varied between soil origins and bacterial/archaeal diversity and evenness correlated with at least one SA metabolite (diversity: populin; evenness: total phenolics). The production of individual salicylic acid derivatives that varied by host genotype, resulted in compositional differences for bacteria /archaea (tremuloidin) and fungi (salicylic acid) within one soil origin (Clatskanie) whereas soils from Corvallis did not illicit microbial compositional changes due to salicylic acid derivatives. Several dominant bacterial (e.g., Betaproteobacteria, Acidobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, Chloroflexi, Gemmatimonadete, Firmicutes) and one fungal phyla (Mortierellomycota) also correlated with specific SA secondary metabolites; bacterial phyla exhibited more negative interactions (declining abundance with increasing metabolite concentration) than positive interactions.

Conclusions: These results indicate microbial communities diverge most among soil origin. However, within a soil origin, bacterial communities are responsive to plant SA production within greenhouse-based rhizosphere microbiomes. Fungal microbiomes are impacted by root SA-metabolites, but overall to a lesser degree within this experimental context. These results suggest plant defense strategies, such as SA and its secondary metabolites, may partially drive both archaeal/bacterial and fungal taxa-specific colonization and assembly.


Veach AM, Morris R, Yip DZ, Yang ZK, Engle NL, Cregger MA, Tschaplinski TJ, and Schadt CW.  (2019).  Rhizosphere microbiomes diverge among Populus trichocarpa plant-host genotypes and chemotypes, but, it depends on soil origin.  Microbiome 7:76; doi: 10.1186/s40168-019-0668-8.

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