Microbial effects on plant phenology and fitness

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1002/ajb2.1743. This is version 1 of this Preprint.


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Anna O'Brien, Nichole Ginnan, Maria Rebolleda-Gomez, Maggie R Wagner


Plant development and the timing of developmental events (phenology) are tightly coupled with plant fitness. A variety of internal and external factors determine the timing and fitness consequences of these life-history transitions. Microbes interact with plants throughout their life-history and impact host phenology. This review summarizes current mechanistic and theoretical knowledge surrounding microbially-driven changes in plant phenology. Overall, there are examples of microbes impacting every phenological transition. While most studies focused on flowering time, microbial effects remain important for host survival and fitness, across all phenological phases. Microbially-mediated changes in nutrient acquisition and phytohormone signaling can release plants from stressful conditions and alter plant stress responses inducing shifts in developmental events. The frequency and direction of phenological effects appear to be partly determined by the lifestyle and the underlying nature of a plant-microbe interaction (i.e. mutualist or pathogenic), in addition to the taxonomic group of the microbe (fungi vs. bacteria). Finally, we highlight biases, gaps in knowledge, and future directions. This biotic source of plasticity for plant adaptation will serve an important role in sustaining plant biodiversity and managing agriculture under the pressures of climate change.




Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology Life Sciences, Life Sciences, Microbiology, Plant Sciences


flowering, life-history, Microbiome, mycorrhizae, phenology, phyllosphere, plant development, plant growth promoting bacteria, plant-microbe interactions, reproduction, rhizosphere


Published: 2021-02-26 20:29


CC-By Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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Data and Code Availability Statement:
The database of papers (and their reported effects) used for this review will be included as an appendix in the Supplementary Information of the published version. In the meantime, this spreadsheet can be obtained from the corresponding author.

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