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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Climate and edaphic controllers influence rhizosphere community assembly for a wild annual grass

  • Author(s): Nuccio, EE
  • Anderson-Furgeson, J
  • Estera, KY
  • Pett-Ridge, J
  • De Valpine, P
  • Brodie, EL
  • Firestone, MK
  • et al.

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© 2016 by the Ecological Society of America. The interface between roots and soil, known as the rhizosphere, is a dynamic habitat in the soil ecosystem. Unraveling the factors that control rhizosphere community assembly is a key starting point for understanding the diversity of plant-microbial interactions that occur in soil. The goals of this study were to determine how environmental factors shape rhizosphere microbial communities, such as local soil characteristics and the regional climate, and to determine the relative influence of the rhizosphere on microbial community assembly compared to the pressures imposed by the local and regional environment. We identified the bacteria present in the soil immediately adjacent to the roots of wild oat (Avena spp.) in three California grasslands using deep Illumina 16S sequencing. Rhizosphere communities were more similar to each other than to the surrounding soil communities from which they were derived, despite the fact that the grasslands studied were separated by hundreds of kilometers. The rhizosphere was the dominant factor structuring bacterial community composition (38% variance explained), and was comparable in magnitude to the combined local and regional effects (22% and 21%, respectively). Rhizosphere communities were most influenced by factors related to the regional climate (soil moisture and temperature), while background soil communities were more influenced by soil characteristics (pH, CEC, exchangeable cations, clay content). The Avena core microbiome was strongly phylogenetically clustered according to the metrics NRI and NTI, which indicates that selective processes likely shaped these communities. Furthermore, 17% of these taxa were not detectable in the background soil, even with a robust sequencing depth of approximately 70,000 sequences per sample. These results support the hypothesis that roots select less abundant or possibly rare populations in the soil microbial community, which appear to be lineages of bacteria that have made a physiological tradeoff for rhizosphere competence at the expense of their competitiveness in non-rhizosphere soil.

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