Soil pH, developmental stages and geographical origin differently influence the root metabolomic diversity and root-related microbial diversity of Echium vulgare from native habitats

Front Plant Sci. 2024 Jun 24:15:1369754. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2024.1369754. eCollection 2024.


Improved understanding of the complex interaction between plant metabolism, environmental conditions and the plant-associated microbiome requires an interdisciplinary approach: Our hypothesis in our multiomics study posited that several environmental and biotic factors have modulating effects on the microbiome and metabolome of the roots of wild Echium vulgare plants. Furthermore, we postulated reciprocal interactions between the root metabolome and microbiome. We investigated the metabolic content, the genetic variability, and the prokaryotic microbiome in the root systems of wild E. vulgare plants at rosette and flowering stages across six distinct locations. We incorporated the assessment of soil microbiomes and the measurement of selected soil chemical composition factors. Two distinct genetic clusters were determined based on microsatellite analysis without a consistent alignment with the geographical proximity between the locations. The microbial diversity of both the roots of E. vulgare and the surrounding bulk soil exhibited significant divergence across locations, varying soil pH characteristics, and within the identified plant genetic clusters. Notably, acidophilic bacteria were characteristic inhabitants of both soil and roots under acidic soil conditions, emphasizing the close interconnectedness between these compartments. The metabolome of E. vulgare significantly differed between root samples from different developmental stages, geographical locations, and soil pH levels. The developmental stage was the dominant driver of metabolome changes, with significantly higher concentrations of sugars, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, and some of their precursors in rosette stage plant roots. Our study featured the complex dynamics between soil pH, plant development, geographical locations, plant genetics, plant metabolome and microbiome, shedding light on existing knowledge gaps.

Keywords: Boraginaceae; Echium; environment; metabolome; microbiome; multiomics; plant; soil.

Grants and funding

The author(s) declare financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. The work for the recent paper was carried out in the framework of project MICROMETABOLITE. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement number 721635.