Sustainable management of crop productivity and health necessitates improved understanding of the ways in which rhizosphere microbial populations interact with each other, with plant roots and their abiotic environment. In this study we examined the effects of different soils and cultivars, and the presence of a soil-borne fungal pathogen, Verticillium dahliae, on the fungal microbiome of the rhizosphere soil and roots of strawberry plants, using high-throughput pyrosequencing. Fungal communities of the roots of two cultivars, Honeoye and Florence, were statistically distinct from those in the rhizosphere soil of the same plants, with little overlap. Roots of plants growing in two contrasting field soils had high relative abundance of Leptodontidium sp. C2 BESC 319 g whereas rhizosphere soil was characterised by high relative abundance of Trichosporon dulcitum or Cryptococcus terreus, depending upon the soil type. Differences between different cultivars were not as clear. Inoculation with the pathogen V. dahliae had a significant influence on community structure, generally decreasing the number of rhizosphere soil- and root-inhabiting fungi. Leptodontidium sp. C2 BESC 319 g was the dominant fungus responding positively to inoculation with V. dahliae. The results suggest that 1) plant roots select microorganisms from the wider rhizosphere pool, 2) that both rhizosphere soil and root inhabiting fungal communities are influenced by V. dahliae and 3) that soil type has a stronger influence on both of these communities than cultivar.
Nallanchakravarthula, S., Mahmood, S., Alström, S., & Finlay, R. D. (2014). Influence of soil type, cultivar and Verticillium dahliae on the structure of the root and rhizosphere soil fungal microbiome of strawberry. PLoS ONE, 9(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0111455