, Volume 61, Issue 4, pp 750-758
Date: 24 Mar 2011

The Microbial Phyllogeography of the Carnivorous Plant Sarracenia alata

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Carnivorous pitcher plants host diverse microbial communities. This plant–microbe association provides a unique opportunity to investigate the evolutionary processes that influence the spatial diversity of microbial communities. Using next-generation sequencing of environmental samples, we surveyed microbial communities from 29 pitcher plants (Sarracenia alata) and compare community composition with plant genetic diversity in order to explore the influence of historical processes on the population structure of each lineage. Analyses reveal that there is a core S. alata microbiome, and that it is similar in composition to animal gut microfaunas. The spatial structure of community composition in S. alata (phyllogeography) is congruent at the deepest level with the dominant features of the landscape, including the Mississippi river and the discrete habitat boundaries that the plants occupy. Intriguingly, the microbial community structure reflects the phylogeographic structure of the host plant, suggesting that the phylogenetic structure of bacterial communities and population genetic structure of their host plant are influenced by similar historical processes.