January 12, 2022
Journal Article

Deciphering the microbial and molecular responses of geographically diverse Setaria accessions grown in a nutrient-poor soil


The microbial and molecular characterization of the ectorhizosphere is an important step towards developing a more complete understanding of how the cultivation of biofuel crops can be undertaken in nutrient poor environments. The ectorhizosphere of Setaria is of particular interest because the plant component of this plant-microbe system is an important agricultural grain crop and a model for biofuel grasses. Importantly, Setaria lends itself to high throughput molecular studies. As such, we have identified important intra- and interspecific microbial and molecular differences in the ectorhizospheres of three geographically distant Setaria italica accessions and their wild ancestor S. viridis. All were grown in a nutrient-poor soil with and without nutrient addition. To assess the contrasting impact of nutrient deficiency observed for two S. italica accessions, we quantitatively evaluated differences in soil organic matter, microbial community, and metabolite profiles. Together, these measurements suggest that rhizosphere priming differs with Setaria accession, which comes from alterations in microbial community abundances, specifically Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria populations. When globally comparing the metabolomic response of Setaria to nutrient addition, plants produced distinctly different metabolic profiles in the leaves and roots. With nutrient addition, increases of nitrogen containing metabolites were significantly higher in plant leaves and roots along with significant increases in tyrosine derived alkaloids, serotonin, and synephrine. Glycerol was also found to be significantly increased in the leaves as well as the ectorhizosphere. These differences provide insight into how C4 grasses adapt to changing nutrient availability in soils or with contrasting fertilization schemas. Gained knowledge could then be utilized in plant enhancement and bioengineering efforts to produce plants with superior traits when grown in nutrient poor soils.

Published: January 12, 2022


Peterson M.J., P. Handakumbura, A.M. Thompson, Z.R. Russell, Y. Kim, S.J. Fansler, and M.L. Smith, et al. 2021. "Deciphering the microbial and molecular responses of geographically diverse Setaria accessions grown in a nutrient-poor soil." PLoS One 16, no. 12:Art. No. e0259937. PNNL-SA-169097. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0259937

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