The effect of root exudate 7,4'-dihydrocyflovane and naringenin on soil bacterial community structure
Our goal was to investigate how root exudate flavonoids influence the soil bacterial community structure and to identify members of the community that change their relative abundance in response to flavonoid exudation. Using a model system that approximates flavonoid exudation of Medicago sativa roots, we treated a soil with 7,4'-dihydroxyflavone and naringenin in two separate experiments using three different rates: medium (equivalent to the exudation rate of 7,4'-dihydroxyflavone from M. sativa seedlings), high (10× the medium rate), and low (0.1× the medium rate). Controls received no flavonoid. Soil samples were subjected to ATP assays and 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. The flavonoid treatments caused no significant change in the soil ATP content. With the high 7,4'-dihydroxyflavone treatment rate, operational taxonomic units (OTUs) classified as Acidobacteria subdivision 4 increased in relative abundance compared with the control samples, whereas OTUs classified as Gaiellales, Nocardioidaceae, and Thermomonosporaceae were more prevalent in the control. The naringenin treatments did not cause significant changes in the soil bacterial community structure. Our results suggest that the root exudate flavonoid 7,4'-dihydroxyflavone can interact with a diverse range of soil bacteria and may have other functions in the rhizosphere in addition to nod gene induction in legume—rhizobia symbiosis.