Drought stress and plant ecotype drive microbiome recruitment in switchgrass rhizosheath

Tie Yuan Liu, Nenghui Ye, Xinyu Wang, Debatosh Das, Yuxiang Tan, Xiangkai You, Mingxiu Long, Tianming Hu, Lei Dai, Jianhua Zhang*, Mo Xian Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The rhizosheath, a layer of soil grains that adheres firmly to roots, is beneficial for plant growth and adaptation to drought environments. Switchgrass is a perennial C4 grass which can form contact rhizosheath under drought conditions. In this study, we characterized the microbiomes of four different rhizocompartments of two switchgrass ecotypes (Alamo and Kanlow) grown under drought or well-watered conditions via 16S ribosomal RNA amplicon sequencing. These four rhizocompartments, the bulk soil, rhizosheath soil, rhizoplane, and root endosphere, harbored both distinct and overlapping microbial communities. The root compartments (rhizoplane and root endosphere) displayed low-complexity communities dominated by Proteobacteria and Firmicutes. Compared to bulk soil, Cyanobacteria and Bacteroidetes were selectively enriched, while Proteobacteria and Firmicutes were selectively depleted, in rhizosheath soil. Taxa from Proteobacteria or Firmicutes were specifically selected in Alamo or Kanlow rhizosheath soil. Following drought stress, Citrobacter and Acinetobacter were further enriched in rhizosheath soil, suggesting that rhizosheath microbiome assembly is driven by drought stress. Additionally, the ecotype-specific recruitment of rhizosheath microbiome reveals their differences in drought stress responses. Collectively, these results shed light on rhizosheath microbiome recruitment in switchgrass and lay the foundation for the improvement of drought tolerance in switchgrass by regulating the rhizosheath microbiome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1753-1774
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Integrative Plant Biology
Issue number10
Early online date20 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Plant Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • 16S rRNA sequencing
  • rhizosheath formation
  • rhizosphere
  • switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.)
  • water deficiency


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