Rhizosphere protists are key determinants of plant health

Wu Xiong, Yuqi Song, Keming Yang, Yian Gu, Zhong Wei*, George A. Kowalchuk, Yangchun Xu, Alexandre Jousset, Qirong Shen, Stefan Geisen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Plant health is intimately influenced by the rhizosphere microbiome, a complex assembly of organisms that changes markedly across plant growth. However, most rhizosphere microbiome research has focused on fractions of this microbiome, particularly bacteria and fungi. It remains unknown how other microbial components, especially key microbiome predators - protists - are linked to plant health. Here, we investigated the holistic rhizosphere microbiome including bacteria, microbial eukaryotes (fungi and protists), as well as functional microbial metabolism genes. We investigated these communities and functional genes throughout the growth of tomato plants that either developed disease symptoms or remained healthy under field conditions. Results: We found that pathogen dynamics across plant growth is best predicted by protists. More specifically, communities of microbial-feeding phagotrophic protists differed between later healthy and diseased plants at plant establishment. The relative abundance of these phagotrophs negatively correlated with pathogen abundance across plant growth, suggesting that predator-prey interactions influence pathogen performance. Furthermore, phagotrophic protists likely shifted bacterial functioning by enhancing pathogen-suppressing secondary metabolite genes involved in mitigating pathogen success. Conclusions: We illustrate the importance of protists as top-down controllers of microbiome functioning linked to plant health. We propose that a holistic microbiome perspective, including bacteria and protists, provides the optimal next step in predicting plant performance. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number27
JournalMicrobiome
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Pathogen of Ralstonia solanacearum
  • Plant health
  • Predator-prey interactions
  • Protists
  • Rhizosphere
  • Secondary metabolite genes

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    Xiong, W., Song, Y., Yang, K., Gu, Y., Wei, Z., Kowalchuk, G. A., ... Geisen, S. (2020). Rhizosphere protists are key determinants of plant health. Microbiome, 8(1), [27]. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-020-00799-9