Rhizosphere competent inoculants modulate the apple root-associated microbiome and plant phytoalexins


Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2024 May 27;108(1):344. doi: 10.1007/s00253-024-13181-8.


Modulating the soil microbiome by applying microbial inoculants has gained increasing attention as eco-friendly option to improve soil disease suppressiveness. Currently, studies unraveling the interplay of inoculants, root-associated microbiome, and plant response are lacking for apple trees. Here, we provide insights into the ability of Bacillus velezensis FZB42 or Pseudomonas sp. RU47 to colonize apple root-associated microhabitats and to modulate their microbiome. We applied the two strains to apple plants grown in soils from the same site either affected by apple replant disease (ARD) or not (grass), screened their establishment by selective plating, and measured phytoalexins in roots 3, 16, and 28 days post inoculation (dpi). Sequencing of 16S rRNA gene and ITS fragments amplified from DNA extracted 28 dpi from different microhabitat samples revealed significant inoculation effects on fungal β-diversity in root-affected soil and rhizoplane. Interestingly, only in ARD soil, most abundant bacterial amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) changed significantly in relative abundance. Relative abundances of ASVs affiliated with Enterobacteriaceae were higher in rhizoplane of apple grown in ARD soil and reduced by both inoculants. Bacterial communities in the root endosphere were not affected by the inoculants but their presence was indicated. Interestingly and previously unobserved, apple plants responded to the inoculants with increased phytoalexin content in roots, more pronounced in grass than ARD soil. Altogether, our results indicate that FZB42 and RU47 were rhizosphere competent, modulated the root-associated microbiome, and were perceived by the apple plants, which could make them interesting candidates for an eco-friendly mitigation strategy of ARD. KEY POINTS: • Rhizosphere competent inoculants modulated the microbiome (mainly fungi) • Inoculants reduced relative abundance of Enterobacteriaceae in the ARD rhizoplane • Inoculants increased phytoalexin content in roots, stronger in grass than ARD soil.

PMID:38801472 | DOI:10.1007/s00253-024-13181-8