Candidatus Nitrosocosmicus members are the dominant archaea associated with pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) and ginseng (Panax ginseng C.A. Mey.) plants rhizospheres

Lee et al. (2024).
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Background: Although archaea are widespread in terrestrial environments, little is known about the selection forces that shape their composition, functions, survival, and proliferation strategies in the rhizosphere. The ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA), which are abundant in soil environments, catalyze the first step of nitrification and have the potential to influence plant growth and development significantly. Results: Based on archaeal 16S rRNA and amoA gene (encoding the ammonia monooxygenase subunit A) amplicon sequencing analysis, distinct archaeal communities dominated by AOA were found to be associated with the root systems of pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) and ginseng (Panax ginseng C.A. Mey.) plants compared to bulk soil not penetrated by roots. AOA related to Candidatus Nitrosocosmicus, which, unlike most other AOA, harbor genes encoding manganese catalase (MnKat), dominated rhizosphere soils, and thus contributed to the development of distinct archaeal communities in rhizospheres. Accordingly, for both plant species, the copy number ratios of AOA MnKat genes to amoA genes were significantly higher in rhizosphere soils than in bulk soils. In contrast to MnKat-negative strains from other AOA clades, the catalase activity of a representative isolate of Ca. Nitrosocosmicus was demonstrated. Members of this clade were enriched in H2O2-amended bulk soils, and constitutive expression of their MnKat gene was observed in both bulk and rhizosphere soils. Conclusions: Due to their abundance, Ca. Nitrosocosmicus members can be considered key players mediating the nitrification process in rhizospheres. The selection of this MnKat-containing AOA in rhizospheres of several agriculturally important plants hints at a previously overlooked AOA-plant interaction. For additional mechanistic analyses of the interaction, this key clade of AOA with cultured representatives can be employed.
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