Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Exploring Arabidopsis thaliana Root Endophytes via Single-Cell Genomics
- Author(s): Lundberg, Derek
- Woyke, Tanja
- Tringe, Susannah
- Dangl, Jeff
- et al.
Land plants grow in association with microbial communities both on their surfaces and inside the plant (endophytes). The relationships between microbes and their host can vary from pathogenic to mutualistic. Colonization of the endophyte compartment occurs in the presence of a sophisticated plant immune system, implying finely tuned discrimination of pathogens from mutualists and commensals. Despite the importance of the microbiome to the plant, relatively little is known about the specific interactions between plants and microbes, especially in the case of endophytes. The vast majority of microbes have not been grown in the lab, and thus one of the few ways of studying them is by examining their DNA. Although metagenomics is a powerful tool for examining microbial communities, its application to endophyte samples is technically difficult due to the presence of large amounts of host plant DNA in the sample. One method to address these difficulties is single-cell genomics where a single microbial cell is isolated from a sample, lysed, and its genome amplified by multiple displacement amplification (MDA) to produce enough DNA for genome sequencing. This produces a single-cell amplified genome (SAG). We have applied this technology to study the endophytic microbes in Arabidopsis thaliana roots. Extensive 16S gene profiling of the microbial communities in the roots of multiple inbred A. thaliana strains has identified 164 OTUs as being significantly enriched in all the root endophyte samples compared to their presence in bulk soil.