Microbial Ecology

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 674–681 | Cite as

Distinctive Phyllosphere Bacterial Communities in Tropical Trees

  • Mincheol Kim
  • Dharmesh Singh
  • Ang Lai-Hoe
  • Rusea Go
  • Raha Abdul Rahim
  • Ainuddin A.N.
  • Jongsik Chun
  • Jonathan M. Adams
Plant Microbe Interactions


Recent work has suggested that in temperate and subtropical trees, leaf surface bacterial communities are distinctive to each individual tree species and dominated by Alpha- and Gammaproteobacteria. In order to understand how general this pattern is, we studied the phyllosphere bacterial community on leaves of six species of tropical trees at a rainforest arboretum in Malaysia. This represents the first detailed study of ‘true’ tropical lowland tree phyllosphere communities. Leaf surface DNA was extracted and pyrosequenced targeting the V1–V3 region of 16S rRNA gene. As was previously found in temperate and subtropical trees, each tree species had a distinctive bacterial community on its leaves, clustering separately from other tree species in an ordination analysis. Bacterial communities in the phyllosphere were unique to plant leaves in that very few operational taxonomic units (0.5%) co-occurred in the surrounding soil environment. A novel and distinctive aspect of tropical phyllosphere communities is that Acidobacteria were one of the most abundant phyla across all samples (on average, 17%), a pattern not previously recognized. Sequences belonging to Acidobacteria were classified into subgroups 1–6 among known 24 subdivisions, and subgroup 1 (84%) was the most abundant group, followed by subgroup 3 (15%). The high abundance of Acidobacteria on leaves of tropical trees indicates that there is a strong relationship between host plants and Acidobacteria in tropical rain forest, which needs to be investigated further. The similarity of phyllosphere bacterial communities amongst the tree species sampled shows a significant tendency to follow host plant phylogeny, with more similar communities on more closely related hosts.



This work was in part funded by a Malaysian government ‘Brain Gain Fellowship’ granted to Jonathan Adams December 2008 to August 2010. We thank Y-M. Oh and B. Tripathi of SNU for their help with sample processing.

Supplementary material

248_2011_9953_MOESM1_ESM.doc (76 kb)
Table S1 Sequencing results with diversity measures (DOC 75 kb)
248_2011_9953_MOESM2_ESM.doc (45 kb)
Table S2 Taxonomic affiliation of the 29 most abundant OTUs across all tree species with sequences in GenBank (DOC 45 kb)
248_2011_9953_MOESM3_ESM.eps (1.6 mb)
High resolution image file (EPS 1.58 MB)
248_2011_9953_MOESM4_ESM.doc (159 kb)
Figure S2 Relative abundance of dominant Acidobacterial OTUs between different tree species. Taxonomic affiliation of each OTU was shown in parenthesis (1, subgroup 1; 3, subgroup 3) (DOC 159 kb)
248_2011_9953_MOESM5_ESM.doc (282 kb)
Figure S3 Clustering patterns of phyllosphere bacterial communities between tree species in phylum level. Principal coordinates plots (PCoA) were generated using pairwise unweighted Unifrac distances between samples. Four dominant bacterial phyla are shown as a Acidobacteria, b Alphaproteobacteria, c Bacteroidetes, and d Actinobacteria, respectively (DOC 281 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mincheol Kim
    • 1
  • Dharmesh Singh
    • 1
  • Ang Lai-Hoe
    • 2
  • Rusea Go
    • 3
    • 5
  • Raha Abdul Rahim
    • 4
  • Ainuddin A.N.
    • 3
  • Jongsik Chun
    • 1
  • Jonathan M. Adams
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesSeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Forest BiotechnologyForest Research Institute of MalaysiaKepongMalaysia
  3. 3.INTROPUniversiti Putra MalaysiaSelangorMalaysia
  4. 4.Institute of Biotechnology, Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular SciencesUniversiti Putra MalaysiaSelangorMalaysia
  5. 5.Department of BiologyUniversiti Putra MalaysiaSelangorMalaysia

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