Bacterial networks and co-occurrence relationships in the lettuce root microbiota

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SummaryLettuce is one of the most common raw foods worldwide, but occasionally also involved in pathogen outbreaks. To understand the correlative structure of the bacterial community as a network, we studied root microbiota of eight ancient and modernLactuca sativacultivars and the wild ancestorLactuca serriolaby pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicon libraries. The lettuce microbiota was dominated by Proteobacteria and Bacteriodetes, as well as abundant Chloroflexi and Actinobacteria. Cultivar specificity comprised 12.5% of the species. Diversity indices were not different between lettuce cultivar groups but higher than inL. serriola, suggesting that domestication lead to bacterial diversification in lettuce root system. Spearman correlations between operational taxonomic units (OTUs) showed that co-occurrence prevailed over co-exclusion, and complementary fluorescence in situ hybridization-confocal laser scanning microscopy (FISH-CLSM) analyses revealed that this pattern results from both potential interactions and habitat sharing. Predominant taxa, such asPseudomonas,FlavobacteriumandSphingomonadaceaerather suggested interactions, even though these are not necessarily part of significant modules in the co-occurrence networks. Without any need for complex interactions, single organisms are able to invade into this microbial network and to colonize lettuce plants, a fact that can influence the susceptibility to pathogens. The approach to combine co-occurrence analysis and FISH-CLSM allows reliably reconstructing and interpreting microbial interaction networks.

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