A footprint of plant eco-geographic adaptation on the composition of the barley rhizosphere bacterial microbiota.

Rodrigo Alegria Terrazes, Katharin Balbirnie-Cumming, Jenny Morris, Pete E Hedley, Joanne R Russell, Eric Paterson, Liz Baggs, Eyal Fridman, Davide Bulgarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The microbiota thriving in the rhizosphere, the thin layer of soil surrounding plant roots, plays a critical role in plant’s adaptation to the environment. Domestication and breeding selection
have progressively differentiated the microbiota of modern crops from the ones of their wild ancestors. However, the impact of eco-geographical constraints faced by domesticated plants and crop wild relatives on recruitment and maintenance of the rhizosphere microbiota remains to be fully elucidated. Here we performed a comparative 16S rRNA gene survey of the rhizosphere of 4 domesticated and 20 wild barley (Hordeum vulgare) genotypes grown in an agricultural soil under controlled environmental conditions. We demonstrated the enrichment of individual bacteria mirrored the distinct eco-geographical constraints faced by their host plants. Unexpectedly, Elite varieties exerted a stronger genotype effect on the rhizosphere microbiota when compared with wild barley genotypes adapted to desert
environments with a preferential enrichment for members of Actinobacteria. Finally, in wild barley genotypes, we discovered a limited, but significant, correlation between microbiota
diversity and host genomic diversity. Our results revealed a footprint of the host’s adaptation to the environment on the assembly of the bacteria thriving at the root-soil interface. In the
tested conditions, this recruitment cue layered atop of the distinct evolutionary trajectories of wild and domesticated plants and, at least in part, is encoded by the barley genome. This
knowledge will be critical to design experimental approaches aimed at elucidating the recruitment cues of the barley microbiota across a range of soil types.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12916 (2020)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date31 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jul 2020


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