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Evaluating the Microbiome of Industrial Hemp

Ali Cala: Cornell University

<div>Industrial hemp is a new crop for New York State, with increasing grower interest in producing the crop for seed, oil, fiber and other uses. While plant-microbiome interactions can impact nutrient acquisition, pest and disease susceptibility, and other phenotypes in some plants, the composition and function of the hemp microbiome remains poorly characterized. The purpose of this study was to characterize the industrial hemp microbiome and evaluate environmental variability in microbiome composition. During the summer of 2017, field trials of the hemp cultivar ‘Anka’ were planted in six locations in Tompkins and Ontario counties, New York. Microbiome composition was assessed in bulk soil, rhizosphere soil, root compartment, phylloplane, and flowers. Furthermore, microbial colonization of male and female flowers was followed over a period of three weeks in the field. Composition of the microbiome was assessed in soil and plant tissues by extracting DNA, amplification of bacterial SSU rRNA genes and fungal ITS regions, and Illumina MiSeq sequencing. We describe variance in microbial community composition with respect to plant compartment and geographic location and assess core microbiome composition of industrial hemp. Furthermore, we describe and contrast temporal development of microbiome composition of male and female flowers.</div>