, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 113-122

Annual and Seasonal Variation in the Phyllosphere Bacterial Community Associated with Leaves of the Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

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Abstract

The phyllosphere contains a diverse bacterial community that can be intimately associated with the host plant; however, few studies have examined how the phyllosphere community changes over time. We sampled replicate leaves from a single magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) tree in the winter of three consecutive years (2007–2009) as well as during four seasons of 1 year (2008) and used molecular techniques to examine seasonal and year-to-year variation in bacterial community structure. Multivariate analysis of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis profiles of 16S rRNA gene fragments revealed minimal leaf to leaf variation and much greater temporal changes, with the summer (August 2008) leaf community being most distinct from the other seasons. This was confirmed by sequencing and analysis of 16S rRNA gene clone libraries generated for each sample date. All phyllosphere communities were dominated by Alphaproteobacteria, with a reduction in the representation of certain Beijerinckiaceae during the summer and a concurrent increase in the Methylobacteriaceae being the most significant seasonal change. Other important components of the magnolia phyllosphere included members of the Bacteroidetes, Acidobacteria, and Actinobacteria, with the latter two lineages also showing differences in their representation in samples collected at different times. While the leaf-associated bacterial community sampled at the same time of year in three separate years showed some similarities, generally these communities were distinct, suggesting that while there are seasonal patterns, these may not be predictable from year to year. These results suggest that seasonal differences do occur in phyllosphere communities and that broad-leafed evergreen trees such as M. grandiflora may present interesting systems to study these changes in the context of changing environmental conditions.