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- It is increasingly evident that the plant microbiome is a strong determinant of plant health. While the ability to manipulate the microbiome in plants and ecosystems recovering from disturbance may be useful, our understanding of the plant microbiome in regenerating plant communities is currently limited.
- Using 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region amplicon sequencing, we characterized the leaf, stem, fine root, rhizome, and rhizosphere microbiome of < 1-yr-old aspen saplings and the associated bulk soil after a recent high-intensity prescribed fire across a burn severity gradient.
- Consistent with previous studies, we found that soil microbiomes are responsive to fire. We extend these findings by showing that certain plant tissue microbiomes also change in response to fire. Differences in soil microbiome compositions could be attributed to soil chemical characteristics, but, generally, plant tissue microbiomes were not related to plant tissue elemental concentrations. Using source tracking modeling, we also show that fire influences the relative dominance of microbial inoculum and the vertical inheritance of the sapling microbiome from the parent tree.
- Overall, our results demonstrate how fire impacts plant microbiome assembly, diversity, and composition and highlights potential for further research towards increasing plant fitness and ecosystem recovery after fire events.
Dove, N.C., Klingeman, D.M., Carrell, A.A., Cregger, M.A. and Schadt, C.W. (2021), Fire alters plant microbiome assembly patterns: integrating the plant and soil microbial response to disturbance. New Phytol, 230: 2433-2446. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.17248