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PLoS One. 2014 Apr 11;9(4):e94710. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094710. eCollection 2014.

Analysis of plant-bacteria interactions in their native habitat: bacterial communities associated with wild tobacco are independent of endogenous jasmonic acid levels and developmental stages.

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Department of Molecular Ecology, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, Germany.


Jasmonic acid (JA) mediates defense responses against herbivores and necrotrophic pathogens but does it influence the recruitment of bacterial communities in the field? We conducted field and laboratory experiments with transformed Nicotiana attenuata plants deficient in jasmonate biosynthesis (irAOC) and empty vector controls (EV) to answer this question. Using both culture-dependent and independent techniques, we characterized root and leaf-associated bacterial communities over five developmental stages, from rosette through flowering of plants grown in their natural habitat. Based on the pyrosequencing results, alpha and beta diversity did not differ among EV and irAOC plants or over ontogeny, but some genera were more abundant in one of the genotypes. Furthermore, bacterial communities were significantly different among leaves and roots. Taxa isolated only from one or both plant genotypes and hence classified as 'specialists' and 'generalists' were used in laboratory tests to further evaluate the patterns observed from the field. The putative specialist taxa did not preferentially colonize the jasmonate-deficient genotype, or alter the plant's elicited phytohormone signaling. We conclude that in N. attenuata, JA signaling does not have a major effect on structuring the bacterial communities and infer that colonization of plant tissues is mainly shaped by the local soil community in which the plant grows.

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