Foliar bacterial communities of trembling aspen in a common garden

Charles J. Mason, Jesse A. Pfammatter, Liza M. Holeski, Kenneth F. Raffa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Microbial associations with plants are widely distributed and are structured by a number of biotic and physical factors. Among biotic factors, the host plant genotype may be integral to these plant–microbe interactions. Trees in the genus Populus have become models for studies in scaling effects of host plant genetics and in plant–microbe interactions. Using 454 pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, we assessed the foliar bacterial community of 7 genotypes of mature trembling aspen trees (Populus tremuloides Michx.) grown in a common garden. Trees were selected based on prior analyses showing clonal variation in their concentration of chemicals conferring resistance against insect herbivores. At broad taxonomic designations, the bacterial community of trembling aspen was similar across all plant genotypes. At a finer taxonomic scale, the foliage of these trees varied in their community composition, but there was no distinct pattern to colonization or abundance related to plant genotype. The most abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were classified as Ralstonia, Bradyrhizobium, Pseudomonas, and Brucella. These OTUs varied across the common garden, but there was no significant effect of host plant genotype or spatial position on the abundance of these members. Our results suggest that aspen genotype is less important in the structuring of its foliar bacterial communities than are other, poorly understood processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-149
Number of pages7
JournalCanadian Journal of Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • Bacteria
  • Community
  • Foliage
  • Plant–microbe interactions
  • Pyrosequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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