Large-scale multi-omics analyses identified root-microbiome associations underlying plant nitrogen nutrition

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The microbiome determines the performance and fitness of the host plant. Nevertheless, the causal interaction between host genetic variation, gene regulation and the impact of the microbiome on the host phenotype remain unknown. Here we generated 1,341 paired root transcriptome, rhizosphere microbiome and root ionome samples and performed a multi-omics analyses of the host-microbe association at the root-soil interface using 175 rapeseeds ( Brassica napus L.) resequenced ecotypes at two field environments. We observed the highest statistically explained variance for root nitrogen uptake among natural ionomic variation by overall transcriptome-wide gene expression and microbial abundance variation. Moreover, we identified significant genome-wide associations for 203 highly heritable amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) at multiple genetic loci regulated by eQTL hotspots associated with nitrogen metabolism components. These associations involved a central bacterial genus ( Sphingopyxis ), which plays a dominant role on gene regulatory effect on its variation regulated by eQTL hotspots. In addition, we performed high-throughput bacterial cultivation from rapeseed roots and subjected Sphingopyxis to whole genome sequencing. Finally, targeted metabolite profiling and confocal imaging assays demonstrated a host-microbiome regulatory effect on Sphingopyxis established by lateral root development and plant nitrogen nutrition. In summary, our integrative approach reveals the genetic basis of host-microbiome trait associations in the transcriptional, nutritional and environmental domains and suggests that the microbiome might have causal effects on root development with implications towards the breeding of nutrient-efficient crops.

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