Chickpea genotypes shape the soil microbiome and affect the establishment of the subsequent durum wheat crop in the semiarid North American Great Plains.

Ellouze, W., Hamel, C., Vujanovic, V., Gan, Y.T., Bouzid, S., and St-Arnaud, M. (2013). "Chickpea genotypes shape the soil microbiome and affect the establishment of the subsequent durum wheat crop in the semiarid North American Great Plains.", Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 63, pp. 129-141. doi : 10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.04.001  Access to full text

Abstract

Accumulating evidence supports the feasibility of creating biotic soil environments that promote root health using selected plant genotypes. Five years of field experimentation conducted in the semiarid grasslands of North America revealed genotypic variation in the influence of chickpea on the composition of the soil microbial community and on the establishment of the subsequent crop. A 2-year experiment documented the effects of four chickpea cultivars on the arable soil microbiome using cultural methods, the cloning and sequencing of soil-extracted DNA, and fatty acid methyl ester profiling. Cultivar CDC Frontier was characterized by low bacterial biomass, whereas Amit and CDC Anna selected similarly structured bacterial communities but contrasting soil fungal communities. Amit and CDC Anna became colonized by arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi to the same extent, but the arable soil planted with CDC Anna hosted the highest level of culturable fungal diversity, whereas the soil planted with Amit hosted the lowest. The highest diversity of culturable fungi and the richness of AM fungal ribotypes (11) were also associated with CDC Anna. Amit was preferentially associated with the antagonist species Penicillium canescens. Higher durum wheat stand density was found after CDC Anna than after Amit, indicating that microbial diversity is an important feature of productive soils. The influence of chickpea genotype on the arable soil microbiome and on the establishment of the subsequent durum wheat crop was related to the soil water reserve at depths of 30–120 cm and was eliminated when the chickpea crops experienced drought. Genetic variation in the influence of chickpea on the soil microbiome suggests the possibility of selecting genotypes to engineer beneficial soil biotic environments. Inadequate levels of soil water could limit the success of this strategy, however, in rainfed cropping systems of the semiarid grasslands of North America.

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