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Plant domestication and the assembly of bacterial and fungal communities associated with strains of the common sunflower, Helianthus annuus

Leff, Jonathan W., Lynch, Ryan C., Kane, Nolan C., Fierer, Noah
The new phytologist 2017 v.214 no.1 pp. 412-423
Helianthus annuus, bacterial communities, crop yield, domestication, fungal communities, fungi, genetic factors, mature plants, microbiome, pathogens, plant breeding, plant health, rhizosphere, seeds
Root and rhizosphere microbial communities can affect plant health, but it remains undetermined how plant domestication may influence these bacterial and fungal communities. We grew 33 sunflower (Helianthus annuus) strains (n = 5) that varied in their extent of domestication and assessed rhizosphere and root endosphere bacterial and fungal communities. We also assessed fungal communities in the sunflower seeds to investigate the degree to which root and rhizosphere communities were influenced by vertical transmission of the microbiome through seeds. Neither root nor rhizosphere bacterial communities were affected by the extent of sunflower domestication, but domestication did affect the composition of rhizosphere fungal communities. In particular, more modern sunflower strains had lower relative abundances of putative fungal pathogens. Seed‐associated fungal communities strongly differed across strains, but several lines of evidence suggest that there is minimal vertical transmission of fungi from seeds to the adult plants. Our results indicate that plant‐associated fungal communities are more strongly influenced by host genetic factors and plant breeding than bacterial communities, a finding that could influence strategies for optimizing microbial communities to improve crop yields.