Microbiome-Assisted Breeding to Understand Cultivar-Dependent Assembly in Cucurbita pepo

Peter Kusstatscher*, Eveline Adam, Wisnu Adi Wicaksono, Maria Bernhart, Expedito Olimi, Henry Müller, Gabriele Berg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently, it was shown that long-term plant breeding does not only shape plant characteristics but also impacts plant-associated microbiota substantially. This requires a microbiome-integrative breeding approach, which was not yet shown. Here we investigate this for the Styrian oil pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L. subsp. pepo var. styriaca Greb.) by analyzing the microbiome of six genotypes (the complete pedigree of a three-way cross-hybrid, consisting of three inbred lines and one open pollinating cultivar) in the seed and rhizosphere as well as the progeny seeds. Using high-throughput amplicon sequencing targeting the 16S rRNA and the ITS1 genes, the bacterial and fungal microbiomes were accessed. Seeds were found to generally carry a significantly lower microbial diversity compared to the rhizosphere and soil as well as a different microbial composition, with an especially high fraction of Enterobacteriaceae (40–83%). Additionally, potential plant-beneficial bacterial taxa, including Bacillaceae, Burkholderiaceae, and Pseudomonadaceae, were found to be enriched in progeny seeds. Between genotypes, more substantial changes can be observed for seed microbiomes compared to the rhizosphere. Moreover, rhizosphere communities were assembled for the most part from soil. Interestingly, bacterial signatures are mainly linked from seed to seed, while fungal communities are shaped by the soil and rhizosphere. Our findings provide a deep look into the rhizosphere and seed microbiome assembly of pumpkin-associated communities and represent the first steps into microbiome-driven breeding for plant-beneficial microbes
Original languageEnglish
Article number642027
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • 16S rRNA gene amplicons
  • Cucurbitaceae
  • ITS sequencing
  • microbiome transmission
  • plant–microbe interactions
  • pumpkin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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