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Spatial and compositional diversity in the microbiota of harvested fruits: what can it tell us about biological control of postharvest diseases

Michael Wisniewski: Appalachian Fruit Research Station, USDA-ARS

<div>Accumulating evidence indicates that the composition of the microbiota inhabiting an organism (both endo- and epiphytically) can have a profound effect on host physiology and defense responses. The role of the microbiota in plant health and physiology, however, is poorly understand, and few studies have focused on temperate fruit trees. A global effort is underway to characterize the endophytic and epiphytic microbiome of apple fruit with the goal of developing a microbial consortium for the management of a wide range of postharvest diseases, and potentially physiological disorders. Spatial studies of the microbiota of apple peel, calyx-end, stem-end, and wounds tissues have revealed distinct compositional differences, as well as differences between organic and conventional management systems. Other studies have indicated a distinct genotype effect on defining the endophytic microbiota in apple shoots. These data suggest that apple pedigree influences the composition of the endophytic microbiota and that the host and microbiome have co-evolved to some extent, as suggested in the holobiont concept. The effect of postharvest processes, such as waxing and storage, on the apple fruit microbiome will be presented, as well as a global analysis of the apple fruit microbiome. The implications of greater knowledge of the apple microbiome on disease and cultural management strategies, cultivar breeding, and abiotic stress resistance, will be discussed.</div>