Year of Publication

2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Plant and Soil Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Seth Debolt

Abstract

Soil and root microbial communities have been studied for decades, and the incorporation of high-throughput techniques and analysis has allowed the identification of endophytic/non-culturable organisms. This has helped characterize and establish the core microbiome of many model plant species which include underground and aboveground organs. Unfortunately, the information obtained from some of these model plants is not always transferable to other agronomic species. In this project, we decided to study the microbiome of the Nicotiana genus because of its importance in plant physiological and plant-microbe interactions studies. The data obtained was used as baseline information that allowed us to better understand the effect of microbial inoculums on the assembly of the microbiome of the plant. We analyzed 16s rRNA amplicons to survey the microbiome in different plant organs and rhizosphere from four different species. Bacterial strains evaluated were screened for a consistent reduction or improvement in plant growth. Four bacterial strains were tested and used as seed inoculum (Lf-Lysinobacillus fusisormis, Ms –Micrococcus sp., Bs–Bacillus sp., Bc–Bacillus cereus). Bs and Bc inoculants caused plant growth promotion, and in contrast Ms caused retarded growth, while Lf acted as a neutral or non-inducing phenotype strain. Data supported that microbial inoculum used as seed treatment caused systemic changes in the host plant microbiome. Functionality of the inoculum was studied and the response in plant growth was linked to hormonal changes (evaluated in the plant and in the bacterial strains). Gene expression analysis using a genome-scale approach revealed that genes that could possibly be involved in stress response are down-regulated for Bc and Bs treatments and up-regulated for Ms. Flexibility variability of the inoculum was also evaluated to have a better understanding of the main factors involved in the promotion or suppression of growth, and possibly its effect in following generations. In summary, the findings of this project support that the plant functional microbiome responds to exogenous stimulation from abiotic and biotic factors by adapting endogenous hormone responses.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/ETD.2018.065

Available for download on Thursday, April 11, 2019

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