Comparative Metagenomics Reveal Phylum Level Temporal and Spatial Changes in Mycobiome of Belowground Parts of Crocus sativusReport as inadecuate

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Plant-fungal associations have been explored by routine cultivation based approaches and cultivation based approaches cannot catalogue more than 5% of fungal diversity associated with any niche. In the present study, an attempt has been made to catalogue fungal diversity associated with belowground parts i.e. rhizosphere and cormosphere, of Crocus sativus an economically important herb during two growth stages, using cultivation independent ITS gene targeted approach, taking bulk soil as reference. The 454 pyrosequencing sequence data analysis suggests that the fungal diversity was niche and growth stage specific. Fungi diversity, in the present case, was not only different between the two organs roots and corm but the dominance pattern varies between the cormosphere during two growth stages. Zygomycota was dominant fungal phylum in the rhizosphere whereas Basidiomycota was dominant in cormosphere during flowering stage. However in cormosphere though Basidiomycota was dominant phylum during flowering stage but Zygomycota was dominant during dormant stage. Interestingly, in cormosphere, the phyla which was dominant at dormant stage was rare at flowering stage and vice-versa Basidiomycota: Flowering = 93.2% Dormant = 0.05% and Zygomycota: Flowering = 0.8% Dormant = 99.7%. At genus level, Rhizopus was dominant in dormant stage but was rare in flowering stage Rhizopus: Dormant = 99.7% Flowering = 0.55%. This dynamics is not followed by the bulk soil fungi which was dominated by Ascomycota during both stages under study. The genus Fusarium, whose species F. oxysporum causes corm rot in C. sativus, was present during both stages with slightly higher abundance in roots. Interestingly, the abundance of Rhizopus varied a great deal in two stages in cormosphere but the abundance of Fusarium was comparable in two growth stages Bulk soil Flowering = 0.05%, Rhizosphere Flowering = 1.4%, Cormosphere Flowering = 0.06%, Bulk soil Dormant = 2.47% and cormosphere dormant = 0.05%. This is the first report on the fungal diversity associated with the root of Crocus sativus and first report on the fungi associated with corm of any plant with the temporal and spatial variation in the fungal community structure.

Author: Sheetal Ambardar, Heikham Russiachand Singh, Malali Gowda, Jyoti Vakhlu



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