Bacterial Communities in the Embryo of Maize Landraces: Relation with Susceptibility to Fusarium Ear Rot

Alessandro Passera (Lead / Corresponding author), Alessia Follador, Stefano Morandi, Niccolò Miotti, Martina Ghidoli, Giovanni Venturini, Fabio Quaglino, Milena Brasca, Paola Casati, Roberto Pilu, Davide Bulgarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Locally adapted maize accessions (landraces) represent an untapped resource of nutritional and resistance traits for breeding, including the shaping of distinct microbiota. Our study focused on five different maize landraces and a reference commercial hybrid, showing different susceptibility to fusarium ear rot, and whether this trait could be related to particular compositions of the bacterial microbiota in the embryo, using different approaches. Our cultivation-independent approach utilized the metabarcoding of a portion of the 16S rRNA gene to study bacterial populations in these samples. Multivariate statistical analyses indicated that the microbiota of the embryos of the accessions grouped in two different clusters: one comprising three landraces and the hybrid, one including the remaining two landraces, which showed a lower susceptibility to fusarium ear rot in field. The main discriminant between these clusters was the frequency of Firmicutes, higher in the second cluster, and this abundance was confirmed by quantification through digital PCR. The cultivation-dependent approach allowed the isolation of 70 bacterial strains, mostly Firmicutes. In vivo assays allowed the identification of five candidate biocontrol strains against fusarium ear rot. Our data revealed novel insights into the role of the maize embryo microbiota and set the stage for further studies aimed at integrating this knowledge into plant breeding programs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2388
Number of pages21
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2021


  • Fusarium verticillioides
  • 16S metabarcoding
  • digital PCR
  • RAPD
  • Firmicutes
  • Digital PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology
  • Microbiology


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