Plant and Soil Core Mycobiomes in a Two-Year Sorghum–Legume Intercropping System of Underutilized Crops in South Africa
Fungal communities form close beneficial (mutualists) or detrimental (pathogens) associations with their plant hosts. Their diversity and abundance can be affected by agricultural practices which include cropping systems such as rotations and intercropping. Despite the importance of cropping systems in increasing productivity, knowledge of the fungal mycobiome and the core inhabitants for under-utilised cereal and legume crops, particularly over a period, is still limited. The core mycobiomes
... plant tissues and bulk soils of a cereal–legume intercrop were characterized over two years using high-throughput sequencing. The intercropping trial consisted of sorghum, Bambara groundnut, cowpea, dry bean, and soybean. A greater number of molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTUs) were found in plant tissues compared to those from the soils and between year one and year two. Principal coordinate analyses revealed that fungal communities for each year were relatively distinct, particularly for the soils. The core mycobiome was dominated by a Davidiellaceae sp. (Cladosporium), Didymellaceae sp. 1 (Phoma), Didymellaceae sp. 2 (Epicoccum), Fusarium sp. 2, Unidentified (Ascomycota), and Cryptococcus MOTUs that were present in all plant tissues and soils of year one and two. Other key MOTUs were only specific to a year, substrate, or crop. Although the mycobiome of sorghum were more distinct than the cores of the legumes, there were still MOTUs dominant across all of the crops. Characterization of this baseline core across two years provides insight into those fungi that are always present in these crops, and that could be utilized in improving crop performance and productivity.