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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Community assembly and stability in the root microbiota during early plant development

Aleklett Kadish, Kristin; Rosa, Daniel; Pickles, Brian John; Hart, Miranda M.


Little is known about how community composition in the plant microbiome is affected by events in the life of a plant. For example, when the plant is exposed to soil, microbial communities may be an important factor in root community assembly. We conducted two experiments asking whether the composition of the root microbiota in mature plants could be determined by either the timing of root exposure to microbial communities or priority effects by early colonizing microbes. Timing of microbial exposure was manipulated through an inoculation experiment, where plants of different ages were exposed to a common soil inoculum. Priority effects were manipulated by challenging roots with established microbiota with an exogenous microbial community. Results show that even plants with existing microbial root communities were able to acquire new microbial associates, but that timing of soil exposure affected root microbiota composition for both bacterial and fungal communities in mature plants. Plants already colonized were only receptive to colonizers at 1 week post-germination. Our study shows that the timing of soil exposure in the early life stages of a plant is important for the development of the root microbiota in mature plants.


bacteria; fungi; plant microbiome; priority effects; root microbiota; Setaria viridis; soil exposure

Published in

Frontiers in Microbiology
2022, volume: 13, article number: 826521

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Protection Biology
Rosa, Daniel
University of British Columbia
Pickles, Brian John
University of Reading
Hart, Miranda M.
University of British Columbia

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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