Image_2_Phytophthora Root Rot Modifies the Composition of the Avocado Rhizosphere Microbiome and Increases the Abundance of Opportunistic Fungal Pathogens.jpg
The structure and function of rhizosphere microbial communities are affected by the plant health status. In this study, we investigated the effect of root rot on the avocado rhizosphere microbiome, using 16S rDNA and ITS sequencing. Furthermore, we isolated potential fungal pathogens associated with root rot symptoms and assessed their pathogenic activity on avocado. We found that root rot did not affect species richness, diversity or community structure, but induced changes in the relative abundance of several microbial taxa. Root rot increased the proportion of Pseudomonadales and Burkholderiales in the rhizosphere but reduced that of Actinobacteria, Bacillus spp. and Rhizobiales. An increase in putative opportunistic fungal pathogens was also detected in the roots of symptomatic trees; the potential pathogenicity of Mortierella sp., Fusarium spp., Lasiodiplodia sp. and Scytalidium sp., is reported for the first time for the State of Veracruz, Mexico. Root rot also potentially modified the predicted functions carried out by rhizobacteria, reducing the proportion of categories linked with the lipid and amino-acid metabolisms whilst promoting those associated with quorum sensing, virulence, and antibiotic resistance. Altogether, our results could help identifying microbial taxa associated to the disease causal agents and direct the selection of plant growth-promoting bacteria for the development of biocontrol microbial consortia.