Howe, A., N. Stopnisek, S. K. Dooley, F. Yang, K. L. Grady, and A. Shade. 2023. Seasonal activities of the phyllosphere microbiome of perennial crops. Nature Communications 14:1039.

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Understanding the interactions between plants and microorganisms can inform microbiome management to enhance crop productivity and resilience to stress. Here, we apply a genome-centric approach to identify ecologically important leaf microbiome members on replicated plots of field-grown switchgrass and miscanthus, and to quantify their activities over two growing seasons for switchgrass. We use metagenome and metatranscriptome sequencing and curate 40 medium- and high-quality metagenome-assembled-genomes (MAGs). We find that classes represented by these MAGs (Actinomycetia, Alpha- and Gamma- Proteobacteria, and Bacteroidota) are active in the late season, and upregulate transcripts for short-chain dehydrogenase, molybdopterin oxidoreductase, and polyketide cyclase. Stress-associated pathways are expressed for most MAGs, suggesting engagement with the host environment. We also detect seasonally activated biosynthetic pathways for terpenes and various non-ribosomal peptide pathways that are poorly annotated. Our findings support that leaf-associated bacterial populations are seasonally dynamic and responsive to host cues.

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-36515-y

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