The plant is crucial: specific composition and function of the phyllosphere microbiome of indoor ornamentals

Rocel Amor Ortega, Alexander Mahnert, Chistian Berg, Henry Müller, Gabriele Berg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The plant microbiome is a key determinant of plant health. Less is known about the phyllosphere microbiota and its driving factors in built environments. To study the variability of the microbiome in relation to plant genotype and climate under different controlled conditions, we investigated 14 phylogenetically diverse plant species grown in the greenhouses of the Botanical Garden in Graz (Austria). All investigated plants showed specific bacterial abundances of up to 106 CFU cm−2 on their leaves. Bacterial diversity (H′: 2.4–7.9) and number of putative OTUs (461–2013) were strongly plant species dependent. Statistical analysis showed a significantly higher correlation of community composition to plant genotype in comparison to the ambient climatic variables. In addition to the microbiome structure, we studied the antagonistic potential towards the foliar pathogen Botrytis cinerea as functional indicator. A high proportion of isolates (up to 58%) were able to inhibit pathogen growth by production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Data of structure and function were linked: frequently isolated VOCs producers (e.g. Bacillus and Stenotrophomonas) were highly present in phyllosphere communities, which were dominated by members of Firmicutes. This study indicates that indoor ornamentals feature a distinct, stable microbiota on leaves irrespective of the indoor climate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue numberfiw.173
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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