Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2017) 83 (11 - e00210-17)
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Defining the core citrus leaf- and root-associated microbiota: factors associated with community structure and implications for managing huanglongbing (citrus greening) disease
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 83 (11 - e00210-17)
Abstract: Stable associations between plants and microbes are critical to promoting host health and productivity. The objective of this work was to test the hypothesis that restructuring of the core microbiota may be associated with the progression of huanglongbing (HLB), the devastating citrus disease caused by Liberibacter asiaticus, Liberibacter americanus, and Liberibacter africanus. The microbial communities of leaves (n = 94) and roots (n = 79) from citrus trees that varied by HLB symptom severity, cultivar, location, and season/time were characterized with Illumina sequencing of 16S rRNA genes. The taxonomically rich communities contained abundant core members (i.e., detected in at least 95% of the respective leaf or root samples), some overrepresented site-specific members, and a diverse community of low-abundance variable taxa. The composition and diversity of the leaf and root microbiota were strongly associated with HLB symptom severity and location; there was also an association with host cultivar. The relative abundance of Liberibacter spp. among leaf microbiota positively correlated with HLB symptom severity and negatively correlated with alpha diversity, suggesting that community diversity decreases as symptoms progress. Network analysis of the microbial community time series identified a mutually exclusive relationship between Liberibacter spp. and members of the Burkholderiaceae, Micromonosporaceae, and Xanthomonadaceae. This work confirmed several previously described plant disease-associated bacteria, as well as identified new potential implications for biological control. Our findings advance the understanding of (i) plant microbiota selection across multiple variables and (ii) changes in (core) community structure that may be a precondition to disease establishment and/or may be associated with symptom progression.
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