Author(s): Koopman MM, Fuselier DM, Hird S, Carstens BC
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Abstract The ability of American carnivorous pitcher plants (Sarracenia) to digest insect prey is facilitated by microbial associations. Knowledge of the details surrounding this interaction has been limited by our capability to characterize bacterial diversity in this system. To describe microbial diversity within and between pitchers of one species, Sarracenia alata, and to explore how these communities change over time as pitchers accumulate and digest insect prey, we collected and analyzed environmental sequence tag (454 pyrosequencing) and genomic fingerprint (automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism) data. Microbial richness associated with pitcher plant fluid is high; more than 1,000 unique phylogroups were identified across at least seven phyla and 50 families. We documented an increase in bacterial diversity and abundance with time and observed repeated changes in bacterial community composition. Pitchers from different plants harbored significantly more similar bacterial communities at a given time point than communities coming from the same genetic host over time. The microbial communities in pitcher plant fluid also differ significantly from those present in the surrounding soil. These findings indicate that the bacteria associated with pitcher plant leaves are far from random assemblages and represent an important step toward understanding this unique plant-microbe interaction.
This article was published in Appl Environ Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Ecosystem & Ecography