Apr 1, 2020

Parasites as niche modifiers for the microbiome: A field test with multiple parasites

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Kayleigh R O'KeeffeC. E. Mitchell


Parasites can affect and be affected by the host's microbiome, with consequences for host susceptibility, parasite transmission, and host and parasite fitness. Yet, there are two aspects of the relationship between parasite infection and the host microbiome that remain little understood: the nature of the relationship under field conditions, and how the relationship varies among parasite species. To overcome these limitations, we assayed the within-leaf fungal community in a grass population to investigate how diversity and composition of the fungal microbiome are associated with natural infection by fungal parasites with different feeding strategies. We hypothesized that parasites that more strongly modify niches available within a host will thereby alter the microbial taxa that can colonize the community and be associated with greater changes in microbiome diversity and composition. A parasite that creates necrotic tissue to extract resources (necrotrophs) may act as a particularly strong niche modifier whereas one that does not (biotrophs) may not. Barcoded amplicon sequencing of the fungal ITS region revealed that the microbiome of leaf segments that were symptomatic of necrotrophs had lower fungal diversity and distinct co...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Genetic Loci
EAF2 gene
BAT Loci

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