Domestication-driven metaorganism evolution in wheat
Plants are not standalone entities but colonized by an immense diversity of eukaryotic and prokaryotic microbes, collectively called the “plant microbiota”. In my PhD thesis, I studied the impact of domestication on the vertically-transmitted (i.e. seedborne) and environmentally-acquired microbial community assembly in the bread wheat Triticum aestivum and its wild progenitors. Furthermore, I disentangled factors shaping seedborne microbial variation in domesticated wheat. In my study, I improved and optimized techniques to increase the accuracy and resolution of amplicon-based sequencing of wheat seeds based on 16S rRNA and ITS marker loci for bacterial and fungal profiling, respectively. Using these techniques, I revealed that: i) Domestication may has conferred a strong role of stochastic processes in the assembly of vertical transmitting microbes, ii) Domestication has not affected the ability of the plant to assemble soil-derived microbial diversity in leaves and roots, iii) Intra- and inter-plant variation is comparable in seedborne microbial communities. This study is, to the best of my knowledge, the most comprehensive study analyzing wheat microbial communities spanning a wide collection of genotypes in details.