Sorghum root flavonoid chemistry, cultivar, and frost stress effects on rhizosphere bacteria and fungi

Mara Cloutier, Debamalya Chatterjee, Dinakaran Elango, Jin Cui, Mary Ann Bruns, Surinder Chopra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Biotic stresses, including fungal infections, result in increased production of flavonoid compounds, including 3-deoxyanthocyanidins (3-DAs), in the leaf tissues of Sorghum bicolor. Our objectives were to determine whether sorghum genotypic variation influenced root flavonoid and 3-DA concentrations and rhizosphere microbial communities and to identify how these relationships were affected by abiotic stress. We evaluated root chemicals and rhizosphere microbiomes of five near-isogenic lines of sorghum before and after a late-season frost. Roots were analyzed for total flavonoids, total phenolics, 3-DA concentrations, and antioxidant activity. Amplicon sequencing of 16S ribosomal RNA genes and internal transcribed spacer regions was performed on rhizosphere soils. Concentrations of luteolinidin (a 3-DA) and total flavonoids differed between several lines before frost; however, these relationships changed after frost. Luteolinidin increased in three lines after frost,whereas total flavonoids decreased in all the lines after frost. Lines that differed in luteolinidin and total flavonoid concentrations before frost were different from those after frost. Rhizosphere community compositions also differed before and after frost but only fungal community compositions differed among sorghum lines. Bacterial community compositions were highly correlated with total flavonoid and luteolinidin concentrations. Furthermore, a greater number of bacterial taxa were correlated with total flavonoids and luteolinidin compared with fungal taxa.Collectively, this study provides evidence that plant genotypic variation influences root flavonoids and rhizosphere community composition and that these relationships are affected by frost. Plant-microbe interactions and secondary metabolite production may be important components to include for selective breeding of sorghum for frost stress tolerance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-50
Number of pages12
JournalPhytobiomes Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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