Metagenomic analysis of oomycete communities from the rhizosphere of field pea on the Canadian prairies


Esmaeili Taheri, A., Chatterton, S., Gossen, B.D., McLaren, D.L. (2017). Metagenomic analysis of oomycete communities from the rhizosphere of field pea on the Canadian prairies, 63(9), 758-768.

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Since 2011, root rot severity on field pea has increased on the Canadian prairies. Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of field pea, and the crop is an important component of sustainable production in the region. This disease has the potential to affect not only production of pea, but also sustainability of the production system. Root rot is caused by several common pathogens, but root rot caused by Aphanomyces euteiches appears to be increasing rapidly. A. euteiches belongs to the Oomycete group, which differ from fungi. To examine the microbial communities associated with pea root rot, soil was collected from healthy and diseased pea plants at sites in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in 2013 and 2014. DNA sequencing was used to identify the oomycete species present in each soil sample. Non-pathogenic species predominated at each site, and A. euteiches occurred at very low levels, even in infested fields. This study demonstrated that relatively simple DNA sequencing (Illumina MiSeq) can be used to identify the composition of oomycete species present in prairie soils, and that oomycete species composition varies across the region. DNA sequencing represents a powerful tool to identify the microorganisms associated with both the root rot complex and with healthy soils.


Oomycetes are a diverse group of microorganisms, however, little is known about their composition and biodiversity in agroecosystems. Illumina MiSeq was used to determine the type and abundance of oomycetes associated with pea root rot in the Canadian prairies. Additional objectives of the study were to identify differences in oomycete communities associated with pea root health and compare oomycete communities among the 3 prairie provinces, where field peas are commonly cultivated. Samples of soil from the rhizosphere of field pea (Pisum sativum L.) were collected from patches of asymptomatic or diseased plants from 26 commercial fields in 2013 and 2014. Oomycete communities were characterized using metagenomic analysis of the ITS1 region on Illumina MiSeq. From 105 identified operational taxonomic units (OTUs), 45 and 16 oomycete OTUs were identified at species and genus levels, respectively. Pythium was the most prevalent genus and Pythium heterothallicum the most prevalent species in all 3 provinces in both 2013 and 2014. Aphanomyces euteiches, a very important pea root rot pathogen in regions of the prairies, was detected in 57% of sites but at very low abundance (<0.2%). Multivariate analysis revealed differences in the relative abundance of species in oomycete communities between asymptomatic and diseased sites, and among years and provinces. This study demonstrated that deep amplicon sequencing can provide information on the composition and diversity of oomycete communities in agricultural soils.

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