Rhizospheric microbial communities associated with wild and cultivated frankincense producing Boswellia sacra tree

PLoS One. 2017 Oct 20;12(10):e0186939. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186939. eCollection 2017.


Boswellia sacra, a frankincense producing endemic tree, has been well known for its cultural, religious and economic values. However, the tree has been least explored for the associated microsymbiota in the rhizosphere. The current study elucidates the fungal and bacterial communities of the rhizospheric regions of the wild and cultivated B. sacra tree populations through next generation sequencing. The sequence analysis showed the existence of 1006±8.9 and 60.6±3.1 operational taxonomic unit (OTUs) for bacterial and fungal communities respectively. In fungal communities, five major phyla were found with significantly higher abundance of Ascomycota (60.3%) in wild population and Basidiomycota (52%) in cultivated tree rhizospheres. Among bacterial communities, 31 major phyla were found, with significant distribution of Actinobacteria in wild tree rhizospheres, whereas Proteobacteria and Acidobacteria were highly abundant in cultivated trees. The diversity and abundance of microbiome varied significantly depending upon soil characteristics of the three different populations. In addition, significantly higher glucosidases, cellulases and indole-3-acetic acid were found in cultivated tree's rhizospheres as compared to wild tree populations. for these plants to survive the harsh arid-land environmental conditions. The current study is a first comprehensive work and advances our knowledge about the core fungal and bacterial microbial microbiome associated with this economically important tree.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Boswellia / metabolism*
  • Boswellia / microbiology*
  • Frankincense / metabolism*
  • Fungi / classification
  • Fungi / isolation & purification*
  • Rhizosphere*


  • Frankincense

Grants and funding

This study was funded by The Oman Research Council (TRC) through ORG/EBR/15/007. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.