Plant specialized metabolites (PSMs) are secreted into the rhizosphere, i.e., the soil zone surrounding the roots of plants. They are often involved in root-associated microbiome assembly, but the association between PSMs and microbiota is not well characterized. Saponins are a group of PSMs widely distributed in angiosperms. In this study, we compared the bacterial communities in field soils treated with the pure compounds of four different saponins. All saponin treatments de-creased bacterial α-diversity and caused significant differences in β-diversity when compared with the control. The bacterial taxa depleted by saponin treatments were higher than the ones enriched; two families, Burkholderiaceae and Methylophilaceae, were enriched, while eighteen families were depleted with all saponin treatments. Sphingomonadaceae, which is abundant in the rhizosphere of saponin-producing plants (tomato and soybean), was enriched in soil treated with α-solanine, dioscin, and soyasaponins. α-Solanine and dioscin had a steroid-type aglycone that was found to specifically enrich Geobacteraceae, Lachnospiraceae, and Moraxellaceae, while soyasaponins and glycyrrhizin with an oleanane-type aglycone did not specifically enrich any of the bacterial families. At the bacterial genus level, the steroidal-type and oleanane-type saponins differentially influenced the soil bacterial taxa. Together, these results indicate that there is a relationship between the iden-tities of saponins and their effects on soil bacterial communities.
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