UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Disease-induced changes in plant microbiome assembly and functional adaptation Gao, Min; Xiong, Chao; Gao, Cheng; Tsui, Clement K. M.; Wang, Meng-Meng; Zhou, Xin; Zhang, Ai-Min; Cai, Lei


Background The plant microbiome is an integral part of the host and increasingly recognized as playing fundamental roles in plant growth and health. Increasing evidence indicates that plant rhizosphere recruits beneficial microbes to the plant to suppress soil-borne pathogens. However, the ecological processes that govern plant microbiome assembly and functions in the below- and aboveground compartments under pathogen invasion are not fully understood. Here, we studied the bacterial and fungal communities associated with 12 compartments (e.g., soils, roots, stems, and fruits) of chili pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) using amplicons (16S and ITS) and metagenomics approaches at the main pepper production sites in China and investigated how Fusarium wilt disease (FWD) affects the assembly, co-occurrence patterns, and ecological functions of plant-associated microbiomes. Results The amplicon data analyses revealed that FWD affected less on the microbiome of pepper reproductive organs (fruit) than vegetative organs (root and stem), with the strongest impact on the upper stem epidermis. Fungal intra-kingdom networks were less stable and their communities were more sensitive to FWD than the bacterial communities. The analysis of microbial interkingdom network further indicated that FWD destabilized the network and induced the ecological importance of fungal taxa. Although the diseased plants were more susceptible to colonization by other pathogenic fungi, their below- and aboveground compartments can also recruit potential beneficial bacteria. Some of the beneficial bacterial taxa enriched in the diseased plants were also identified as core taxa for plant microbiomes and hub taxa in networks. On the other hand, metagenomic analysis revealed significant enrichment of several functional genes involved in detoxification, biofilm formation, and plant-microbiome signaling pathways (i.e., chemotaxis) in the diseased plants. Conclusions Together, we demonstrate that a diseased plant could recruit beneficial bacteria and mitigate the changes in reproductive organ microbiome to facilitate host or its offspring survival. The host plants may attract the beneficial microbes through the modulation of plant-microbiome signaling pathways. These findings significantly advance our understanding on plant-microbiome interactions and could provide fundamental and important data for harnessing the plant microbiome in sustainable agriculture. Video abstract

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)