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Temporal And Cultivar-Specific Effects On Potato Root- And Rhizosphere Fungal Diversity

Kaire Loit, Liina Soonvald, Alar Astover, Eve Runno-Paurson, Maarja Öpik, Leho Tedersoo

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The rhizosphere fungal community can play an important role in determining plant growth and health. In this study, using high-throughput sequencing, we investigated the fungal diversity and community composition in the roots and rhizosphere soil of 21 potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) cultivars. The samples were collected at three different sampling points. Furthermore, we assessed the differences in both diversity and composition of pathogen and saprotroph communities. In soil and roots, the fungal richness and relative abundance of pathogens and saprotrophs were mainly affected by sampling time. However, root fungal communities were also significantly affected by cultivar. The most substantial effect of cultivar was on root pathogen diversity. Moreover, the occurrence of most pathogens strongly varied among cultivars. Soil fungal community composition was primarily determined by sampling time; whereas in roots, the primary determinant was cultivar. Our results demonstrate changes in fungal communities over the potato growing season, as well as highlight the importance of potato cultivar on root fungal communities, and emphasise their importance in plant breeding.