Microalga are of high relevance for the global carbon cycling and it is well-known that they are associated with a microbiota. However, it remains unclear, if the associated microbiota, often found in phycosphere biofilms, is specific for the microalga strains and which role individual bacterial taxa play. Here we provide experimental evidence that Chlorella saccharophila, Scenedesmus quadricauda, and Micrasterias crux-melitensis, maintained in strain collections, are associated with unique and specific microbial populations. Deep metagenome sequencing, binning approaches, secretome analyses in combination with RNA-Seq data implied fundamental differences in the gene expression profiles of the microbiota associated with the different microalga. Our metatranscriptome analyses indicates that the transcriptionally most active bacteria with respect to key genes commonly involved in plant-microbe interactions in the Chlorella (Trebouxiophyceae) and Scenedesmus (Chlorophyceae) strains belong to the phylum of the α-Proteobacteria. In contrast, in the Micrasterias (Zygnematophyceae) phycosphere biofilm bacteria affiliated with the phylum of the Bacteroidetes showed the highest gene expression rates. We furthermore show that effector molecules known from plant-microbe interactions as inducers for the innate immunity are already of relevance at this evolutionary early plant-microbiome level.
Keywords: metagenomics; metaproteomics; metatranscriptomics; microalga–bacteria interaction; phycosphere biofilm.