Stable-isotope-informed, genome-resolved metagenomics uncovers potential cross-kingdom interactions in rhizosphere soil

Evan P. Starr, Shengjing Shi, Steven J. Blazewicz, Benjamin J. Koch, Alexander J. Probst, Bruce A. Hungate, Jennifer Pett-Ridge, Mary K. Firestone, Jillian F. Banfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The functioning, health, and productivity of soil are intimately tied to a complex network of interactions, particularly in plant root-associated rhizosphere soil. We conducted a stable-isotope-informed, genome-resolved metagenomic study to trace carbon from Avena fatua grown in a 13CO2 atmosphere into soil. We collected paired rhizosphere and nonrhizosphere soil at 6 and 9 weeks of plant growth and extracted DNA that was then separated by density using ultracentrifugation. Thirtytwo fractions from each of five samples were grouped by density, sequenced, assembled, and binned to generate 55 unique bacterial genomes that were $70% complete. We also identified complete 18S rRNA sequences of several 13C-enriched microeukaryotic bacterivores and fungi. We generated 10 circularized bacteriophage (phage) genomes, some of which were the most labeled entities in the rhizosphere, suggesting that phage may be important agents of turnover of plant-derived C in soil. CRISPR locus targeting connected one of these phage to a Burkholderiales host predicted to be a plant pathogen. Another highly labeled phage is predicted to replicate in a Catenulispora sp., a possible plant growth-promoting bacterium. We searched the genome bins for traits known to be used in interactions involving bacteria, microeukaryotes, and plant roots and found DNA from heavily 13C-labeled bacterial genes thought to be involved in modulating plant signaling hormones, plant pathogenicity, and defense against microeukaryote grazing. Stable-isotope-informed, genomeresolved metagenomics indicated that phage can be important agents of turnover of plant-derived carbon in soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00085-21
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Bacteriophages
  • Metagenomics
  • Plant-microbe interactions
  • Rhizosphere
  • Stable-isotope probing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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