Main content area

Changes in rhizosphere bacterial gene expression following glyphosate treatment

Newman, Molli M., Lorenz, Nicola, Hoilett, Nigel, Lee, Nathan R., Dick, Richard P., Liles, Mark R., Ramsier, Cliff, Kloepper, Joseph W.
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.553 pp. 32-41
Glycine max, RNA, Zea mays, agrochemicals, amino acid metabolism, bacteria, bacterial communities, biomarkers, carbohydrate metabolism, community structure, corn, fungi, gene expression, gene expression regulation, glyphosate, greenhouse production, iron, microbial activity, nitrogen, nutrients, phospholipid fatty acids, phosphorus, potassium, rhizosphere, sequence analysis, soil, soil microorganisms, soybeans, United States
In commercial agriculture, populations and interactions of rhizosphere microflora are potentially affected by the use of specific agrichemicals, possibly by affecting gene expression in these organisms. To investigate this, we examined changes in bacterial gene expression within the rhizosphere of glyphosate-tolerant corn (Zea mays) and soybean (Glycine max) in response to long-term glyphosate (PowerMAX™, Monsanto Company, MO, USA) treatment. A long-term glyphosate application study was carried out using rhizoboxes under greenhouse conditions with soil previously having no history of glyphosate exposure. Rhizosphere soil was collected from the rhizoboxes after four growing periods. Soil microbial community composition was analyzed using microbial phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis. Total RNA was extracted from rhizosphere soil, and samples were analyzed using RNA-Seq analysis. A total of 20–28 million bacterial sequences were obtained for each sample. Transcript abundance was compared between control and glyphosate-treated samples using edgeR. Overall rhizosphere bacterial metatranscriptomes were dominated by transcripts related to RNA and carbohydrate metabolism. We identified 67 differentially expressed bacterial transcripts from the rhizosphere. Transcripts downregulated following glyphosate treatment involved carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism, and upregulated transcripts involved protein metabolism and respiration. Additionally, bacterial transcripts involving nutrients, including iron, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, were also affected by long-term glyphosate application. Overall, most bacterial and all fungal PLFA biomarkers decreased after glyphosate treatment compared to the control. These results demonstrate that long-term glyphosate use can affect rhizosphere bacterial activities and potentially shift bacterial community composition favoring more glyphosate-tolerant bacteria.