Apple endophyte community in relation to location, scion and rootstock genotypes and susceptibility to European canker

Leone Olivieri, Robert Saville, Alan Gange, Xiangming Xu

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European apple canker, caused by Neonectria ditissima, is a severe disease of apple. Achieving effective control is difficult with the currently available pesticides. Specific apple endophytes associated with cultivars may partially contribute to the cultivar response to the pathogen and thus could be used for disease management.We sought to determine whether the overall endophyte community differed among cultivars differing in their susceptibility to N. ditissima and to identify specific microbial groups associated with the susceptibility. Using Illumina MiSeq meta-barcoding, we profiled apple tree endophytes in 16 scion-rootstock combinations at two locations, and quantified the relative contribution of scion, rootstock and location to the observed variability in the endophyte communities. Endophyte diversity was primarily affected by the orchard location (accounting for 29.4% and 85.9% of the total variation in the PC1 for bacteria and fungi, respectively), followed by the scion genotype (24.3% and 19.5% of PC2), whereas rootstock effects were small (< 3% of PC1 and PC2). There were significant differences in the endophyte community between canker resistant and susceptible cultivars. Several bacterial and fungal endophyte groups had different relative abundance between susceptible and resistant cultivars. These endophyte groups included putative pathogen antagonists as well as plant pathogens. Their possible ecological roles in the N. ditissima pathosystem are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfiab131
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2021

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