Bowsher, A. W., G. Benucci, G. Bonito, and A. Shade. 2021. Seasonal dynamics of core fungi in the switchgrass phyllosphere, and co-occurrence with leaf bacteria. Phytobiomes Journal 5:60-68.
Plant leaves harbor complex microbial communities that influence plant health and productivity. Nevertheless, a detailed understanding of phyllosphere community assembly and drivers is needed, particularly for phyllosphere fungi. Here, we investigated seasonal dynamics of epiphytic phyllosphere fungal communities in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), a focal bioenergy crop. We also leverage previously published data on switchgrass phyllosphere bacterial communities from the same experimental plants, allowing us to compare fungal and bacterial dynamics and explore interdomain network associations in the switchgrass phyllosphere. Overall, we found a strong impact of sampling date on fungal community composition, with multiple taxonomic levels exhibiting clear temporal patterns in relative abundance. In addition, leaf nitrogen concentration, leaf dry matter content, plant height, and minimum daily air temperature explained significant variation in phyllosphere fungal communities, likely due to their correlation with sampling date. Finally, among the core taxa, fungi–bacteria network associations were much more common than bacteria–bacteria associations, suggesting the importance of interdomain phylogenetic diversity in microbiome assembly. Although our findings highlight the complexity of phyllosphere microbiome assembly, the clear temporal patterns in lineage-specific fungal abundances give promise to the potential for accurately predicting shifts in fungal phyllosphere communities throughout the growing season, a key research priority for sustainable agriculture.
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