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Genotype specific variation in the structure of root fungal communities is related to chickpea plant productivity.

Bazghaleh, N., Hamel, C., Gan, Y.T., Tar’an, B., and Knight, J.D. (2015). "Genotype specific variation in the structure of root fungal communities is related to chickpea plant productivity.", Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 81(7), pp. 2368-2377. doi : 10.1128/AEM.03692-14  Access to full text


Increasing evidence supports the existence of variations in the association of plant roots with symbiotic fungi that can improve plant growth and inhibit pathogens. However, it is unclear whether intraspecific variations in the symbiosis exist among plant cultivars and if they can be used to improve crop productivity. In this study, we determined genotype-specific variations in the association of chickpea roots with soil fungal communities and evaluated the effect of root mycota on crop productivity. A 2-year field experiment was conducted in southwestern Saskatchewan, the central zone of the chickpea growing region of the Canadian prairie. The effects of 13 cultivars of chickpea, comprising a wide range of phenotypes and genotypes, were tested on the structure of root-associated fungal communities based on internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and 18S rRNA gene markers using 454 amplicon pyrosequencing. Chickpea cultivar significantly influenced the structure of the root fungal community. The magnitude of the effect varied with the genotypes evaluated, and effects were consistent across years. For example, the roots of CDC Corrine, CDC Cory, and CDC Anna hosted the highest fungal diversity and CDC Alma and CDC Xena the lowest. Fusarium sp. was dominant in chickpea roots but was less abundant in CDC Corrine than the other cultivars. A bioassay showed that certain of these fungal taxa, including Fusarium species, can reduce the productivity of chickpea, whereas Trichoderma harzianum can increase chickpea productivity. The large variation in the profile of chickpea root mycota, which included growth-promoting and -inhibiting species, supports the possibility of improving the productivity of chickpea by improving its root mycota in chickpea genetic improvement programs using traditional breeding techniques.

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