Authors: Timur Yergaliyev, Rivka Alexander-Shani, Hanna Dimeretz, Shimon Pivonia, David McK Bird, Shimon Rachmilevitch, Amir Szitenberg
Published in: mSphere (2020)
Plant parasitic nematodes such as Meloidogyne incognita have a complex life cycle, occurring sequentially in various niches of the root and rhizosphere. They are known to form a range of interactions with bacteria and other microorganisms that can affect their densities and virulence. High-throughput sequencing can reveal these interactions in high temporal and geographic resolutions, although thus far we have only scratched the surface. In this study, we have carried out a longitudinal sampling scheme, repeatedly collecting rhizosphere soil, roots, galls, and second-stage juveniles from 20 plants to provide a high-resolution view of bacterial succession in these niches, using 16S rRNA metabarcoding. Our findings indicate that a structured community develops in the root, in which gall communities diverge from root segments lacking a gall, and that this structure is maintained throughout the crop season. We describe the successional process leading toward this structure, which is driven by interactions with the nematode and later by an increase in bacteria often found in hypoxic and anaerobic environments. We present evidence that this structure may play a role in the nematode’s chemotaxis toward uninfected root segments. Finally, we describe the J2 epibiotic microenvironment as ecologically deterministic, in part, due to the active bacterial attraction of second-stage juveniles. IMPORTANCE The study of high-resolution successional processes within tightly linked microniches is rare. Using the power and relatively low cost of metabarcoding, we describe the bacterial succession and community structure in roots infected with root-knot nematodes and in the nematodes themselves. We reveal separate successional processes in galls and adjacent non-gall root sections, which are driven by the nematode’s life cycle and the progression of the crop season. With their relatively low genetic diversity, large geographic range, spatially complex life cycle, and the simplified agricultural ecosystems they occupy, root-knot nematodes can serve as a model organism for terrestrial holobiont ecology. This perspective can improve our understanding of the temporal and spatial aspects of biological control efficacy.