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Introduction of probiotic bacterial consortia promotes plant growth via impacts on the resident rhizosphere microbiome

By Jie Hu, Tianjie Yang, Ville Petri Friman, George A. Kowalchuk, Yann Hautier, Mei Li, Zhong Wei, Yang Chun Xu, Qi Rong Shen, Alexandre Jousset

Posted 21 Jun 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.21.449210

Plant growth depends on a range of functions provided by their associated rhizosphere microbiome, including nutrient mineralization, hormone co-regulation and pathogen suppression. Improving the ability of plant associated microbiome to deliver these functions is thus important for developing robust and sustainable crop production. However, it is yet unclear how beneficial effects of probiotic microbial inoculants can be optimised and how they are mediated. Here, we sought to enhance the tomato plant growth by targeted introduction of probiotic bacterial consortia consisting of up to eight plant-associated Pseudomonas strains. We found that the effect of probiotic consortium inoculation was richness-dependent: consortia that contained more Pseudomonas strains, reached higher densities in the tomato rhizosphere and had clearer beneficial effects on multiple plant growth characteristics. Crucially, these effects were best explained by changes in the resident community diversity, composition and increase in the relative abundance of initially rare taxa, instead of introduction of plant-beneficial traits into the existing community along with probiotic consortia. Together, our results suggest that beneficial effects of microbial introductions can be driven indirectly through effects on the diversity and composition of resident plant rhizosphere microbiome.

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