Unveiling the Wheat Microbiome under Varied Agricultural Field Conditions

Microbiol Spectr. 2022 Dec 21;10(6):e0263322. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.02633-22. Epub 2022 Nov 29.


Wheat being the important staple food crop plays a significant role in nutritional security. A wide variety of microbial communities beneficial to plants and contributing to plant health and production are found in the rhizosphere. The wheat microbiome encompasses an extensive variety of microbial species playing a key role in sustaining the physiology of the crop, nutrient uptake, and biotic/abiotic stress resilience. This report presents wheat microbiome analysis under six different farm practices, namely, organic (Org), timely sown (TS), wheat after pulse crop (WAPC), temperature-controlled phenotyping facility (TCPF), maize-wheat cropping system (MW), and residue burnt field (Bur), using 16S rRNA sequencing methodology. The soil samples collected from either side of the wheat row were mixed to get a final sample set for DNA extraction under each condition. After the data preprocessing, microbial community analysis was performed, followed by functional analysis and annotation. An abundance of the phylum Proteobacteria was observed, followed by Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Gemmatimonadetes in the majority of the samples, while relative abundance was found to vary at the genus level. Analysis against the Carbohydrate-Active Enzymes (CAZy) database showed a high number of glycoside hydrolase genes in the TS, TCPF, and WAPC samples, while the Org, MW, and Bur samples predominantly had glycosyltransferase genes and carbohydrate esterase genes were in the lowest numbers. Also, the Org and TCPF samples showed lower diversity, while rare and abundant species ranged from 12 to 25% and 20 to 32% of the total bacterial species in all the sets, respectively. These variations indicate that the different cropping sequence had a significant impact on soil microbial diversity and community composition, which characterizes its economic and environmental value as a sustainable agricultural approach to maintaining food security and ecosystem health. IMPORTANCE This investigation examined the wheat microbiome under six different agricultural field conditions to understand the role of cropping pattern on soil microbial diversity. This study also elaborated the community composition, which has importance in economic (role of beneficial community leading to higher production) and environmental (role of microbial diversity/community in safeguarding the soil health, etc.) arenas. This could lead to a sustainable farming approach for food security and improved ecosystem health. Also, the majority of the microbes are unculturable; hence, technology-based microcultivation will be a potential approach for harnessing other cultured microorganisms, leading to unique species for commercial production. The outcome of this research-accelerated work can provide an idea to the scientists/breeders/agronomists/pathologists under the mentioned field conditions regarding their influence over their crops.

Keywords: 16S rRNA; CAZy; metagenomics; microbial diversity; microbiome; wheat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Crops, Agricultural / microbiology
  • Microbiota* / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Soil / chemistry
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Triticum* / microbiology


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Soil