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Article|17 Sep 2021|OPEN
Contrasting effects of genotype and root size on the fungal and bacterial communities associated with apple rootstocks
Jia Liu1 , Ahmed Abdelfattah2,3 , Birgit Wasserman2 , Michael Wisniewski4 , , Samir Droby5 , Gennaro Fazio6 and Mark Mazzola7 , Xuehong Wu,8 ,
1Chongqing Key Laboratory of Economic Plant Biotechnology, College of Landscape Architecture and Life Science/Institute of Special Plants, Chongqing University of Arts and Sciences, 317 Honghe Road, Yongchuan District, Chongqing 402160, China
2Institute of Environmental Biotechnology, Graz University of Technology, Petersgasse 12, Graz 8010, Austria
3Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB), Max-Eyth Allee 100, 14469 Potsdam, Germany
4Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 220 Ag Quad Ln, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
5Department of Postharvest Science, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, PO Box 15159 Rishon LeZion 7505101, Israel
6United States Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Plant Genetic Resources Unit, 21 Crabapple Drive, Geneva, NY 14456, USA
7USDA-ARS, Tree Fruit Research Laboratory, 1104 North Western Ave., Wenatchee, WA 98801, USA
8Department of Plant Pathology, College of Plant Protection, China Agricultural University, 2 Youanmingyuan West Road, Haidan District, Beijing 100193, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:,

Horticulture Research 8,
Article number: uhab013 (2021)
Views: 262

Received: 08 Jul 2021
Revised: 17 Sep 2021
Accepted: 17 Sep 2021
Published online: 17 Sep 2021


The endophytic microbiome of plants is believed to have a significant impact on its physiology and disease resistance, however, the role of host genotype in determining the composition of the endophytic microbiome of apple root systems remains an open question that has important implications for defining breeding objectives. In the current study, the bacterial and fungal microbiota associated with four different apple rootstocks planted in April, 2018 in the same soil environment and harvested in May, 2019 were evaluated to determine the role of genotype on the composition of both the bacterial and fungal communities. Results demonstrated a clear impact of genotype and root size on microbial composition and diversity. The fungal community was more affected by plant genotype whereas the bacterial community was shaped by root size. Fungal and bacterial abundance was equal between different-sized roots however, significantly higher microbial counts were detected in rhizosphere samples compared to root endosphere samples. This study provides information that can be used to develop a comprehensive and readily applicable understanding of the impact of genotype and environmental factors on the establishment of plant microbiome, as well as its potential function and impact on host physiology.