Agricultural management and plant selection interactively affect rhizosphere microbial community structure and nitrogen cycling

Jennifer E. Schmidt, Angela D. Kent, Vanessa L. Brisson, Amélie C.M. Gaudin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Rhizosphere microbial communities are key regulators of plant performance, yet few studies have assessed the impact of different management approaches on the rhizosphere microbiomes of major crops. Rhizosphere microbial communities are shaped by interactions between agricultural management and host selection processes, but studies often consider these factors individually rather than in combination. We tested the impacts of management (M) and rhizosphere effects (R) on microbial community structure and co-occurrence networks of maize roots collected from long-term conventionally and organically managed maize-tomato agroecosystems. We also explored the interaction between these factors (M × R) and how it impacts rhizosphere microbial diversity and composition, differential abundance, indicator taxa, co-occurrence network structure, and microbial nitrogen-cycling processes. Results: Host selection processes moderate the influence of agricultural management on rhizosphere microbial communities, although bacteria and fungi respond differently to plant selection and agricultural management. We found that plants recruit management-system-specific taxa and shift N-cycling pathways in the rhizosphere, distinguishing this soil compartment from bulk soil. Rhizosphere microbiomes from conventional and organic systems were more similar in diversity and network structure than communities from their respective bulk soils, and community composition was affected by both M and R effects. In contrast, fungal community composition was affected only by management, and network structure only by plant selection. Quantification of six nitrogen-cycling genes (nifH, amoA [bacterial and archaeal], nirK, nrfA, and nosZ) revealed that only nosZ abundance was affected by management and was higher in the organic system. Conclusions: Plant selection interacts with conventional and organic management practices to shape rhizosphere microbial community composition, co-occurrence patterns, and at least one nitrogen-cycling process. Reframing research priorities to better understand adaptive plant-microbe feedbacks and include roots as a significant moderating influence of management outcomes could help guide plant-oriented strategies to improve productivity and agroecosystem sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number146
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 7 2019


  • Adaptive feedbacks
  • Agricultural management
  • Agroecosystem
  • Nitrogen cycling
  • Quantitative PCR
  • Rhizosphere
  • Soil microbial community

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Agricultural management and plant selection interactively affect rhizosphere microbial community structure and nitrogen cycling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this