Distinct rhizomicrobiota assemblages and plant performance in lettuce grown in soils with different agricultural management histories (2021)

Babin D., Sommermann L., Chowdhury S., Behr J., Sandmann M., Neumann G., Nesme J., Sørensen S., Schellenberg I., Rothballer M., Geistlinger J., Smalla K., Grosch R.

FEMS Microbiology Ecology, (),



A better understanding of factors shaping the rhizosphere microbiota is important for sustainable crop production. We hypothesized that the effect of agricultural management on the soil microbiota is reflected in the assemblage of the rhizosphere microbiota with implications for plant performance. We designed a growth chamber experiment growing the model plant lettuce under controlled conditions in soils of a long-term field experiment with contrasting histories of tillage (mouldboard plough vs cultivator tillage), fertilization intensity (intensive standard nitrogen (N) + pesticides/growth regulators vs extensive reduced N without fungicides/growth regulators), and last standing field crop (rapeseed vs winter wheat). High-throughput sequencing of bacterial/archaeal 16S rRNA genes and fungal ITS2 regions amplified from total community DNA showed that these factors shaped the soil and rhizosphere microbiota of lettuce, however, to different extents among the microbial groups. Pseudomonas and Olpidium were identified as major indicators for agricultural management in the rhizosphere of lettuce. Long-term extensive fertilization history of soils resulted in higher lettuce growth and increased expression of genes involved in plant stress responses compared to intensive fertilization. Our work adds to the increasing knowledge on how soil microbiota can be manipulated by agricultural management practices which could be harnessed for sustainable crop production.