Root-associated bacterial communities are necessary for healthy plant growth. Nitrate is a signal molecule as well as a major nitrogen source for plant growth. In this study, nitrate-dependent alterations in root-associated bacterial communities and the relationship between nitrate signaling and root-associated bacteria in Arabidopsis were examined. The bacterial community was analyzed by a ribosomal RNA intergenic spacer analysis (RISA) and 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. The Arabidopsis root-associated bacterial community shifted depending on the nitrate amount and timing of nitrate application. The relative abundance of operational taxonomic units of 25.8% was significantly changed by the amount of nitrate supplied. Moreover, at the family level, the relative abundance of several major root-associated bacteria including Burkholderiaceae, Paenibacillaceae, Bradyrhizobiaceae, and Rhizobiaceae markedly fluctuated with the application of nitrate. These results suggest that the application of nitrate strongly affects root-associated bacterial ecosystems in Arabidopsis. Bulk soil bacterial communities were also affected by the application of nitrate; however, these changes were markedly different from those in root-associated bacteria. These results also suggest that nitrate-dependent alterations in root-associated bacterial communities are mainly affected by plant-derived factors in Arabidopsis. T-DNA insertion plant lines of the genes for two transcription factors involved in nitrate signaling in Arabidopsis roots, NLP7 and TCP20, showed similar nitrate-dependent shifts in root-associated bacterial communities from the wild-type, whereas minor differences were observed in root-associated bacteria. Thus, these results indicate that NLP7 and TCP20 are not major regulators of nitrate-dependent bacterial communities in Arabidopsis roots.
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