Recent paper tests synthetic communities using EcoFAB device

Northen Lab scientists Peter Andeer, Kateryna Zhalnina, Lauren K. Jabusch, and Trent R. Northen recently co-authored an article published in Phytobiomes Journal titled, “Impact of Inoculation Practices on Microbiota Assembly and Community Stability in a Fabricated Ecosystem.” This research aimed to assess the challenge associated with different inoculation methods and plant harvesting times in studying plant-microbe-soil interactions. In this study, fabricated ecosystems, or EcoFABs, were utilized to evaluate three microbial inoculation practices (seed inoculation, transplant inoculation, and seedling inoculation) and two plant harvesting points (early, 14-day-old plants, and late, 21-days-post-inoculation) to determine the effect on microbial community reproducibility from root, rhizosphere, and sand. A 17-member synthetic microbial community (SynCom), which adequately characterizes the rhizosphere microbiome, was used for inoculation of the Brachypodium distachyon plants.

Fig 2. Brachypodium distachyon growth in fabricated ecosystems (EcoFABs) over 28 days.
Fig A. Relative abundance of the microbial synthetic community (SynCom) from sand-filled EcoFABs without plants at different inoculation times. Fig C. Relative abundance of each member of the SynCom at 21 days post inoculation from sand, rhizosphere and root.

The results of this study revealed that the inoculation method significantly affected the rhizosphere microbial community at only the early harvesting time point. The results also showed that microbial community stability with Brachypodium distachyon harvested at the late time point (21 days after inoculation) with transplant inoculation method displayed the highest reproducibility. This research demonstrated the suitability of EcoFABs to further study plant-microbe-environment interactions and provided foundational information for the best inoculation practices and optimal harvesting times.

To learn more, read the full article here.

Lin, H.-H., Torres, M., Adams, C. A., Andeer, P. F., Owens, T. K., Zhalnina, K., Jabusch, L. K., Carlson, H. K., Kuehl, J. V., Deutschbauer, A. M., Northen, T. R., Glass, N. L., & Mortimer, J. C. (2024). Impact of inoculation practices on microbiota assembly and community stability in a fabricated ecosystem. Phytobiomes Journal, 8(2), 155–167.