Drivers of bacterial community assemblages associated with plants are diverse and include biotic factors, such as competitors and host traits, and abiotic factors, including environmental conditions and dispersal mechanisms. We examine the roles of spatial distribution and host size, as an approximation for age, in shaping the microbiome associated with Quercus robur woody tissue using cultureindependent 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. In addition to providing a baseline survey of the Q. robur microbiome, we screened for the pathogen of acute oak decline. Our results suggest that age is a predictor of bacterial community composition, demonstrating a surprising negative correlation between tree age and alpha diversity. We find no signature of dispersal limitation within the Wytham Woods plot sampled. Together, these results provide evidence for niche-based hypotheses of community assembly and the importance of tree age in bacterial community structure, as well as highlighting that caution must be applied when diagnosing dysbiosis in a long-lived plant host.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)