Charlotte Giard-Laliberté

Microbial recruitment from a pre-adapted community to improve water-stress resistance of wheat

Charlotte Giard-Laliberté1, Hamed Azarbad1, Julien Tremblay2, Étienne Yergeau1

In the context of climate change, finding ways to rapidly adapt crops to abiotic stress would be a great asset for the agricultural sector. One way plants could adapt to stressful conditions is by recruiting new microbial partners from the environment. Using a factorial greenhouse pot experimental design, we tested the hypothesis that wheat plants under water stress would cope better when supplemented with pre-adapted microbial communities. Plants were grown in 1) Soil from a wheat field without an history of drought or 2) Soil 1 sterilized, maintained in 1) 50% soil water content or 2) 15% (water stress) and inoculated with microbial communities extracted from 1) a soil with an history of water stress or 2) a soil with no history of water stress. Bacterial 16S rRNA gene and fungal ITS region were amplified from DNA extracted from the rhizosphere soil and sequenced on an Illumina MiSeq system. Preliminary analyses showed that the inoculation treatment had an effect on the general fungal community but not on the general bacterial community of plants grown under water stress. Inoculation of the water-stress pre-adapted community decreased the overall water content of water-stressed wheat plants. Currently, the link between individual OTUs of the inoculums, the ones of the wheat rhizosphere and the effect of the water stress on the wheat plants is being evaluated. The results of this experiment will indicate if the inoculation of pre-adapted microbial consortia during stressful events can be beneficial to help wheat plants cope with the stress.