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Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology
The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food & Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Elevated CO2 and nitrate levels increase wheat root-associated bacterial abundance and impact rhizosphere microbial community composition and function

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Elevated CO2 stimulates plant growth and affects quantity and composition of root exudates, followed by response of its microbiome. Three scenarios representing nitrate fertilization regimes: limited (30 ppm), moderate (70 ppm) and excess nitrate (100 ppm) were compared under ambient and elevated CO2 (eCO(2), 850 ppm) to elucidate their combined effects on root-surface-associated bacterial community abundance, structure and function. Wheat root-surface-associated microbiome structure and function, as well as soil and plant properties, were highly influenced by interactions between CO2 and nitrate levels. Relative abundance of total bacteria per plant increased at eCO(2) under excess nitrate. Elevated CO2 significantly influenced the abundance of genes encoding enzymes, transporters and secretion systems. Proteobacteria, the largest taxonomic group in wheat roots (similar to 75%), is the most influenced group by eCO(2) under all nitrate levels. Rhizobiales, Burkholderiales and Pseudomonadales are responsible for most of these functional changes. A correlation was observed among the five gene-groups whose abundance was significantly changed (secretion systems, particularly type VI secretion system, biofilm formation, pyruvate, fructose and mannose metabolism). These changes in bacterial abundance and gene functions may be the result of alteration in root exudation at eCO(2), leading to changes in bacteria colonization patterns and influencing their fitness and proliferation.