Understanding the impact of cultivar, seed origin, and substrate on bacterial diversity of the sugar beet rhizosphere and suppression of soil-borne pathogens

Adrian Wolfgang, Christin Zachow, Henry Müller, Alfred Grand, Nora Temme, Ralf Tilcher, Gabriele Berg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rhizosphere microbiome is crucial for plant health, especially for preventing roots from being infected by soil-borne pathogens. Microbiota-mediated pathogen response in the soil-root interface may hold the key for microbiome-based control strategies of phytopathogens. We studied the pathosystem sugar beet—late sugar beet root rot caused by Rhizoctonia solani in an integrative design of combining in vitro and in vivo (greenhouse and field) trials. We used five different cultivars originating from two propagation sites (France, Italy) with different degrees of susceptibility towards R. solani (two susceptible, one moderately tolerant and two cultivars with partial resistance). Analyzing bacterial communities in seeds and roots grown under different conditions by 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, we found site-, cultivar-, and microhabitat-specific amplicon sequences variants (ASV) as well as a seed core microbiome shared between all sugar beet cultivars (121 ASVs representing 80%–91% relative abundance). In general, cultivar-specific differences in the bacterial communities were more pronounced in seeds than in roots. Seeds of Rhizoctonia-tolerant cultivars contain a higher relative abundance of the genera Paenibacillus, Kosakonia, and Enterobacter, while Gaiellales, Rhizobiales, and Kosakonia were enhanced in responsive rhizospheres. These results indicate a correlation between bacterial seed endophytes and Rhizoctonia-tolerant cultivars. Root communities are mainly substrate-derived but also comprise taxa exclusively derived from seeds. Interestingly, the signature of Pseudomonas poae Re*1-1-14, a well-studied sugar-beet specific biocontrol agent, was frequently found and in higher relative abundances in Rhizoctonia-tolerant than in susceptible cultivars. For microbiome management, we introduced microbial inoculants (consortia) and microbiome transplants (vermicompost) in greenhouse and field trials; both can modulate the rhizosphere and mediate tolerance towards late sugar beet root rot. Both, seeds and soil, provide specific beneficial bacteria for rhizosphere assembly and microbiota-mediated pathogen tolerance. This can be translated into microbiome management strategies for plant and ecosystem health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number560869
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2020


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