Soil Bacterial Community Composition Is More Stable in Kiwifruit Orchards Relative to Phyllosphere Communities Over Time
Background: Soil and phyllosphere (leaves and fruit) microbes play critical roles in the productivity and health of crops. However, microbial community dynamics are currently understudied in orchards, with a limited number incorporating temporal monitoring. We used 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing to investigate bacterial community temporal dynamics and community assembly processes on the leaves and fruit, and in the soil of 12 kiwifruit orchards across a cropping season in New Zealand.
Results: Community composition significantly differed (P < 0.001) among the three sample types. However, the communities in the phyllosphere substrates more closely resembled each other, relative to the communities in the soil. There was more temporal stability in the soil bacterial community composition, relative to the communities residing on the leaves and fruit, and low similarity between the belowground and aboveground communities. Bacteria in the soil were more influenced by deterministic processes, while stochastic processes were more important for community assembly in the phyllosphere.
Conclusions: The higher temporal variability and the stochastic nature of the community assembly processes observed in the phyllosphere communities highlights why predicting the responsiveness of phyllosphere communities to environmental change, or the likelihood of pathogen invasion, can be challenging. The relative temporal stability and the influence of deterministic selection on soil microbial communities suggests a greater potential for their prediction and reliable manipulation.