The microbiomes on the roots of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and rice (Oryza sativa L.) exhibit significant differences in structure between root types and along root axes

Funct Plant Biol. 2021 Aug;48(9):871-888. doi: 10.1071/FP20351.


There is increasing interest in understanding how the microbial communities on roots can be manipulated to improve plant productivity. Root systems are not homogeneous organs but are comprised of different root types of various ages and anatomies that perform different functions. Relatively little is known about how this variation influences the distribution and abundance of microorganisms on roots and in the rhizosphere. Such information is important for understanding how root-microbe interactions might affect root function and prevent diseases. This study tested specific hypotheses related to the spatial variation of bacterial and fungal communities on wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and rice (Oryza sativa L.) roots grown in contrasting soils. We demonstrate that microbial communities differed significantly between soil type, between host species, between root types, and with position along the root axes. The magnitude of variation between different root types and along individual roots was comparable with the variation detected between different plant species. We discuss the general patterns that emerged in this variation and identify bacterial and fungal taxa that were consistently more abundant on specific regions of the root system. We argue that these patterns should be measured more routinely so that localised root-microbe interactions can be better linked with root system design, plant health and performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Microbiota*
  • Oryza*
  • Plant Roots
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Triticum