Maize germplasm chronosequence shows crop breeding history impacts recruitment of the rhizosphere microbiome

Alonso Favela, Martin O. Bohn, Angela D. Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recruitment of microorganisms to the rhizosphere varies among plant genotypes, yet an understanding of whether the microbiome can be altered by selection on the host is relatively unknown. Here, we performed a common garden study to characterize recruitment of rhizosphere microbiome, functional groups, for 20 expired Plant Variety Protection Act maize lines spanning a chronosequence of development from 1949 to 1986. This time frame brackets a series of agronomic innovations, namely improvements in breeding and the application of synthetic nitrogenous fertilizers, technologies that define modern industrial agriculture. We assessed the impact of chronological agronomic improvements on recruitment of the rhizosphere microbiome in maize, with emphasis on nitrogen cycling functional groups. In addition, we quantified the microbial genes involved in nitrogen cycling and predicted functional pathways present in the microbiome of each genotype. Both genetic relatednesses of host plant and decade of germplasm development were significant factors in the recruitment of the rhizosphere microbiome. More recently developed germplasm recruited fewer microbial taxa with the genetic capability for sustainable nitrogen provisioning and larger populations of microorganisms that contribute to N losses. This study indicates that the development of high-yielding varieties and agronomic management approaches of industrial agriculture inadvertently modified interactions between maize and its microbiome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2454-2464
Number of pages11
JournalISME Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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