Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 19, pp 8215–8227 | Cite as

Environmental pollution effects on plant microbiota: the case study of poplar bacterial-fungal response to silver nanoparticles

  • Francesco Vitali
  • Aida Raio
  • Federico SebastianiEmail author
  • Paolo Cherubini
  • Duccio Cavalieri
  • Claudia Cocozza
Environmental biotechnology


Pollution affects most of the urban and forest environments at different levels causing well-known effects on human and plant health. The influence that pollutants exert on plant-associated microbiota might direct plant health and, in some cases, also the removal of pollutants by plants. With the advent of nanotechnologies, an increasing amount of engineered nanoparticles are being introduced into the environment, and consequently, their impact on plant-associated microorganisms needs to be investigated. In this context, silver nanoparticles (Ag-NPs) were experimentally supplied at leaf and root level of poplar plants to assess Ag-NPs effects on plant microbiota. Leaf Ag-NP treatment increased bacteria and fungi evenness and determined a significant reduction in both microbial groups, while root Ag-NP treatment reduced the bacterial and fungal biodiversity. Bioinformatics functional analysis showed that Ag-NP treatment reduced the aerobic and stimulated facultative anaerobic and oxidative stress-tolerant bacteria. Our study offers new insights into the effects of Ag-NPs on both phyllosphere and rhizosphere poplar-associated microbiota and may represent a first attempt to understand the behavior of microbial communities of a tree species growing in a polluted environment.


Poplar Silver-nanoparticles Phyllosphere microbiota Rhizosphere microbiota 16S rRNA metabarcoding ITS metabarcoding 



Authors thank Annalisa Perone and Sara Pignattelli for the contribution in the lab activities.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

253_2019_10071_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (481 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 480 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di BiologiaUniversità degli Studi di FirenzeSesto FiorentinoItaly
  2. 2.Istituto di Biometeorologia, IBIMET-CNRSesto FiorentinoItaly
  3. 3.Istituto per la Protezione Sostenibile delle Piante, IPSP-CNRSesto FiorentinoItaly
  4. 4.Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSLBirmensdorfSwitzerland
  5. 5.Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and ForestryUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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