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Genetic variation is associated with differences in facilitative and competitive interactions in the Rhizobium leguminosarum species complex

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  • Bryden Fields, University of York
  • ,
  • Emma K Moffat, University of York
  • ,
  • Ellie Harrison, University of Sheffield
  • ,
  • Stig U Andersen
  • J Peter W Young, University of York
  • ,
  • Ville-Petri Friman, University of York

Competitive and facilitative interactions influence bacterial community composition, diversity and functioning. However, the role of genetic diversity for determining interactions between coexisting strains of the same, or closely related, species remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated the type (facilitative/inhibitory) and potential underlying mechanisms of pairwise interactions between twenty-four genetically diverse bacterial strains belonging to three genospecies (gsA,C,E) of the Rhizobium leguminosarum species complex. Interactions were determined indirectly, based on secreted compounds in cell-free supernatants, and directly, as growth inhibition in cocultures. We found supernatants mediated both facilitative and inhibitory interactions that varied greatly between strains and genospecies. Overall, gsE strains indirectly suppressed growth of gsA strains, while their own growth was facilitated by other genospecies' supernatants. Similar genospecies-level patterns were observed in direct competition, where gsA showed the highest susceptibility and gsE the highest inhibition capacity. At the genetic level, increased gsA susceptibility was associated with a non-random distribution of quorum sensing and secondary metabolite genes across genospecies. Together, our results suggest that genetic variation is associated with facilitative and competitive interactions, which could be important ecological mechanisms explaining R. leguminosarum diversity. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

TidsskriftEnvironmental Microbiology
Sider (fra-til)3463-3485
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2022

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This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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