Changes amid constancy: flower and leaf microbiomes along land use gradients and between bioregions

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
P. GaubeAlexander Keller


Microbial communities inhabiting above-ground parts of plants affect their host's development, fitness and function. Although studies on plant-associated microbes are of growing interest, environmental drivers of flower microbiomes in particular are poorly characterized. In this study, we investigated flower and leaf epiphytic bacterial microbiomes of Ranunculus acris and Trifolium pratense using metabarcoding of 16S ribosomal DNA in three German bioregions and along land-use intensity gradients. Our data suggests that the structures of bacterial communities clearly differed between plant species and tissue types. Also, floral bacterial communities of R. acris showed higher variability in comparison to T. pratense. Bacteria usually associated with pollinators were found solely in flower samples, while such usually associated with the rhizosphere were only present in high abundances on leaves. We identified Pseudomonadaceae, Enterobacteriaceae and Sphingomonadaceae as the most abundant taxa on flowers, while Sphingomonadaceae, Methylobacteriaceae and Cytophagaceae dominated bacterial communities on leaves. We found strong bacterial turnover already for short geographic distances, which however did not increase with the long dist...Continue Reading

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