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Probiotic diversity enhances rhizosphere microbiome function and plant disease suppression

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  • Jie HU
  • Zhong Wei
  • Ville-Petri Friman
  • Shao-hua Gu
  • Xiao-fang Wang
  • Nico Eisenhauer
  • Tian-jie Yang
  • Jing Ma
  • Qi-rong Shen
  • Yang-chun Xu
  • Alexandre Jousset


Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - 14 Nov 2016
DatePublished (current) - 13 Dec 2016
Issue number6
Original languageEnglish


Bacterial communities associated with plant roots play an important role in the suppression of soil-borne pathogens, and multispecies probiotic consortia may enhance disease suppression efficacy. Here we introduced defined Pseudomonas species consortia into naturally complex microbial communities and measured the importance of Pseudomonas community diversity for their survival and the suppression of the bacterial plant pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum in the tomato rhizosphere microbiome. The survival of introduced Pseudomonas consortia increased with increasing diversity. Further, high Pseudomonas diversity reduced pathogen density in the rhizosphere and decreased the disease incidence due to both intensified resource competition and interference with the pathogen. These results provide novel mechanistic insights into elevated pathogen suppression by diverse probiotic consortia in naturally diverse plant rhizospheres. Ecologically based community assembly rules could thus play a key role in engineering functionally reliable microbiome applications. IMPORTANCE The increasing demand for food supply requires more-efficient control of plant diseases. The use of probiotics, i.e., naturally occurring bacterial antagonists and competitors that suppress pathogens, has recently reemerged as a promising alternative to agrochemical use. It is, however, still unclear how many and which strains we should choose for constructing effective probiotic consortia. Here we present a general ecological framework for assembling effective probiotic communities based on in vitro characterization of community functioning. Specifically, we show that increasing the diversity of probiotic consortia enhances community survival in the naturally diverse rhizosphere microbiome, leading to increased pathogen suppression via intensified resource competition and interference with the pathogen. We propose that these ecological guidelines can be put to the test in microbiome engineering more widely in the future.

Bibliographical note

© 2016 Hu et al.

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