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Impacts of Maize Domestication and Breeding on Rhizosphere Microbial Community Recruitment from a Nutrient Depleted Agricultural Soil


Maize domestication and breeding have resulted in drastic and well documented changes in aboveground traits, but belowground effects on root system functioning and rhizosphere microbial communities remain poorly understood, despite their critical importance for nutrient and water acquisition. We investigated the rhizosphere microbial community composition and structure of ten Zea mays accessions along an evolutionary transect (two teosinte, three inbred maize lines, and five modern maize hybrids) grown in nutrient depleted soil from a low input agricultural system. Microbial community analysis revealed significant differences in community composition between soil compartments (proximal vs. distal rhizosphere) and between plant genetic groups (teosinte, inbred, and modern hybrid). Only a small portion of the microbial community was differentially selected across plant genetic groups: 3.7% of prokaryotic community members and 4.9% of fungal community members were significantly associated with a specific plant genetic group. Indicator species analysis showed the greatest differentiation between modern hybrids and the other two plant genetic groups. Co-occurrence network analysis revealed that microbial co-occurrence patterns of the inbred maize lines' rhizosphere were significantly more similar to those of the teosintes than to the modern hybrids. Our results suggest that advances in hybrid development significantly impacted rhizosphere microbial communities and network assembly.

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