Nicotiana Roots Recruit Rare Rhizosphere Taxa as Major Root-Inhabiting Microbes

Muhammad Saleem, Audrey D. Law, Luke A. Moe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Root-associated microbes have a profound impact on plant health, yet little is known about the distribution of root-associated microbes among different root morphologies or between rhizosphere and root environments. We explore these issues here with two commercial varieties of burley tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing from rhizosphere soil, as well as from primary, secondary, and fine roots. While rhizosphere soils exhibited a fairly rich and even distribution, root samples were dominated by Proteobacteria. A comparison of abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) between rhizosphere and root samples indicated that Nicotiana roots select for rare taxa (predominantly Proteobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Acidobacteria) from their corresponding rhizosphere environments. The majority of root-inhabiting OTUs (~80 %) exhibited habitat generalism across the different root morphological habitats, although habitat specialists were noted. These results suggest a specific process whereby roots select rare taxa from a larger community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-472
Number of pages4
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Nicotiana
  • Plant root morphology
  • Rare taxa
  • Rhizosphere
  • Root microbiome
  • Root system architecture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


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