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A Plant Growth-Promoting Microbial Soil Amendment Dynamically Alters the Strawberry Root Bacterial Microbiome


Despite growing interest in utilizing microbial-based methods for improving crop growth, much work still remains in elucidating how beneficial plant-microbe associations are established, and what role soil amendments play in shaping these interactions. Here, we describe a set of experiments that test the effect of a commercially available soil amendment, VESTA, on the soil and strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa Monterey) root bacterial microbiome. The bacterial communities of the soil, rhizosphere, and root from amendment-treated and untreated fields were profiled at four time points across the strawberry growing season using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing on the Illumina MiSeq platform. In all sample types, bacterial community composition and relative abundance were significantly altered with amendment application. Importantly, time point effects on composition are more pronounced in the root and rhizosphere, suggesting an interaction between plant development and treatment effect. Surprisingly, there was slight overlap between the taxa within the amendment and those enriched in plant and soil following treatment, suggesting that VESTA may act to rewire existing networks of organisms through an, as of yet, uncharacterized mechanism. These findings demonstrate that a commercial microbial soil amendment can impact the bacterial community structure of both roots and the surrounding environment.

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