High-resolution phenotyping of sorghum genotypic and phenotypic responses to low nitrogen and synthetic microbial communities

Yen Ning Chai, Yufeng Ge, Vincent Stoerger, Daniel P. Schachtman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Much effort has been placed on developing microbial inoculants to replace or supplement fertilizers to improve crop productivity and environmental sustainability. However, many studies ignore the dynamics of plant-microbe interactions and the genotypic specificity of the host plant on the outcome of microbial inoculation. Thus, it is important to study temporal plant responses to inoculation in multiple genotypes within a single species. With the implementation of high-throughput phenotyping, the dynamics of biomass and nitrogen (N) accumulation of four sorghum genotypes with contrasting N-use efficiency were monitored upon the inoculation with synthetic microbial communities (SynComs) under high and low-N. Five SynComs comprising bacteria isolated from field grown sorghum were designed based on the overall phylar composition of bacteria and the enriched host compartment determined from a field-based culture independent study of the sorghum microbiome. We demonstrated that the growth response of sorghum to SynCom inoculation is genotype-specific and dependent on plant N status. The sorghum genotypes that were N-use inefficient were more susceptible to the colonization from a diverse set of inoculated bacteria as compared to the N-use efficient lines especially under low-N. By integrating high-throughput phenotyping with sequencing data, our findings highlight the roles of host genotype and plant nutritional status in determining colonization by bacterial synthetic communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1611-1626
Number of pages16
JournalPlant Cell and Environment
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • microbiota
  • nitrogen fertilization
  • plant growth stage
  • rhizosphere
  • root endosphere
  • synthetic community

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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