A footprint of plant eco-geographic adaptation on the composition of the barley rhizosphere bacterial microbiota

Rodrigo Alegria Terrazas, Katharin Balbirnie-Cumming, Jenny A. Morris, Pete E. Hedley, Joanne Russell, Eric Paterson, Elizabeth M. Baggs, Eyal Fridman, Davide Bulgarelli (Lead / Corresponding author)

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The microbiota thriving in the rhizosphere, the thin layer of soil surrounding plant roots, plays a critical role in plant’s adaptation to the environment. Domestication and breeding selection have progressively differentiated the microbiota of modern crops from the ones of their wild ancestors. However, the impact of eco-geographical constraints faced by domesticated plants and crop wild relatives on recruitment and maintenance of the rhizosphere microbiota remains to be fully elucidated. Here we performed a comparative 16S rRNA gene survey of the rhizosphere of 4 domesticated and 20 wild barley (Hordeum vulgare) genotypes grown in an agricultural soil under controlled environmental conditions. We demonstrated the enrichment of individual bacteria mirrored the distinct eco-geographical constraints faced by their host plants. Unexpectedly, Elite varieties exerted a stronger genotype effect on the rhizosphere microbiota when compared with wild barley genotypes adapted to desert environments with a preferential enrichment for members of Actinobacteria. Finally, in wild barley genotypes, we discovered a limited, but significant, correlation between microbiota diversity and host genomic diversity. Our results revealed a footprint of the host’s adaptation to the environment on the assembly of the bacteria thriving at the root-soil interface. In the tested conditions, this recruitment cue layered atop of the distinct evolutionary trajectories of wild and domesticated plants and, at least in part, is encoded by the barley genome. This knowledge will be critical to design experimental approaches aimed at elucidating the recruitment cues of the barley microbiota across a range of soil types.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12916
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2020


  • Microbial communities
  • Plant domestication


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