A water stress-adapted inoculum affects rhizosphere fungi, but not bacteria nor wheat.FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2019 07 01; 95(7)FM
Here, we tested if inoculating microbial communities adapted to water stress would increase wheat resistance to water stress. Wheat plants were grown for 4 weeks in high and low diversity soils under well-watered conditions, after which they were subjected to a water stress. After another 2 weeks, the rhizospheres were inoculated with microbial communities extracted from soils with or without a history of water stress. The inoculations did not have significant effects on the plant growth, water content and catalase activity, and on the bacterial communities. However, the inoculation did successfully, though modestly, modify the fungal community, shifting the rhizosphere communities toward the inoculated communities. As hypothesized, these shifts were more pronounced and significant in the low diversity soil, and for the inoculum with a water stress history. Whereas the effects of inoculation were relatively subtle, the water stress resulted in large differences in the wheat phenotype and in both the bacterial and fungal communities. Generally, the microbial changes that followed the water stress were in large part due to shifts in the relative abundance of OTUs that were already present before the stress, rather than to the recruitment of microorganisms from the inoculum or the bulk soil.