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Oral: The Phytobiome: A New Frontier in Turfgrass Disease Management


Perfect harmony: Improving our understanding of microbial relationships in the turfgrass community.
J. ROBERTS (1), J. Crouch (2), Z. Carter (3) (1) University of Maryland, U.S.A.; (2) USDA-ARS, U.S.A.; (3) Eleanor Roosevelt High School, U.S.A.

Turfgrass stands support a diverse community of microorganisms. While diseases provide an idea of pathogenic organisms that can thrive on susceptible hosts, many symbiotic microorganisms often go undetected that could impact plant health. As we embark on new research in the turfgrass phytobiome, many question how changes in the environment impact microbial communities and warrants research. In 2015, research was initiated to examine fungi and bacteria that reside on sod [tall fescue (Festuca arundinaceae L.) and Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.)] transported between two locations (NJ to Washington, D.C.) within the northeastern United States. Turfgrass at the U.S. National Mall is being replaced by new sod, but it is unknown what novel microbes might be introduced during the process, and to what extent these non-native organisms may impact the environment. To assess microbial communities, core samples were collected from each site, foliage and root-zone material were separated for analysis of each core, and environmental DNA was extracted from each sample. Illumina sequencing libraries were constructed from adapter-modified PCR amplicons generated from foliar and rhizosphere communities of bacteria (i.e., 16S) and fungi (i.e., ITS). Illumina sequencing of DNA libraries was used to determine specific microbial groups associated with each particular site. Sampling will continue through future growing seasons to assess long-term microbial community development.