Microbial Ecology

, Volume 61, Issue 4, pp 750–758 | Cite as

The Microbial Phyllogeography of the Carnivorous Plant Sarracenia alata

Plant Microbe Interactions


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.

Supplementary material

248_2011_9832_MOESM1_ESM.doc (140 kb)
SI Table 1Distribution of microbial taxonomic and sequence diversity from S. alata across four taxonomic ranks. Eleven phyla, 16 classes, 30 orders, and 76 families are classified using all sequences from all pitchers (sequences assigned to a particular rank that are found in every pitcher are bolded), the number of total sequences at each taxonomic level are listed as well as the abundance distribution between east and western populations. (DOC 139 kb)
248_2011_9832_MOESM2_ESM.doc (468 kb)
SI Fig. 1(Column A) Distribution of microbial taxonomic diversity from S. alata across four taxonomic ranks. Eleven phyla, 16 classes, 30 orders, and 76 Families. Families are classified using all sequences from all pitchers (names available for supplementary table if deemed necessary). (Column B) Proportion of sequences assigned to a particular rank that are found in every pitcher (black, ubiquitous) vs. not (white, rare). (Column C) Distribution of ubiquitous taxa in S. alata pitchers. Four phyla, four classes, four orders, and three families are represented in every pitcher (DOC 468 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyEastern Michigan UniversityYpsilantiUSA

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