Effects of Intra- and Interspecific Plant Density on Rhizosphere Bacterial Communities

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There have been very few studies on the effects of plant competition on the rhizosphere bacterial community. To investigate the impacts of intra- and interspecific plant competition, we analyzed the responses of rhizosphere bacterial communities to plant density as determined by 16S rRNA gene targeted sequencing. We included five weedy plant species growing in field soil in monocultures and mixed cultures at three densities in a greenhouse experiment. The rhizosphere bacterial community of each species changed more with density in a mixture of all five plant species than in monocultures, so intra- and interspecific plant competition had different effects on the bacterial community. For the dominant plant competitor, Centaurea cyanus, neither intra- nor interspecific competition had major effects on the composition of its rhizosphere bacterial communities. In contrast, the bacterial communities of the weakest competitor, Trifolium repens, were affected differently by intra- and interspecific competition. During increasing intraspecific competition T. repens maintained a highly specialized bacterial community dominated by Rhizobium; while during interspecific competition, the relative abundance of Rhizobium declined while other nitrogen fixing and potentially plant growth promoting taxa became more abundant. Contrary to previous observations made for soil microbial communities, the bacterial rhizosphere community of the weakest competitor did not become more similar to that of the dominant species. Thus, the process of competition, as well as the plant species themselves, determined the rhizosphere bacterial community. Our results emphasize the role of plant-plant interactions for rhizosphere bacterial communities. These effects may feedback to affect plant-plant interactions, and this is an important hypothesis for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1045
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Centaurea cyanus, Dracocephalum moldavica, Lolium multiflorum, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, plant density, Plantago psyllium, root microbiome, Trifolium repens

ID: 248087348