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Seeds carry diverse microbial assemblages whose functions remain largely unknown. Microbial interactions occurring on and around the seed are especially important for plant fitness, since seed-borne microorganisms are the primary source of inoculum for the plant. Depending of the outcome of the interactions, these microbial assemblages could either promote or reduce plant growth. Despite this important role, little is known about the structure and function of seed microbiota. In this project, we aim to apply metagenomics and metatranscriptomics approaches to uncover the function of the seed microbiota and its changes during germination and emergence. To this purpose, we performed shotgun DNA sequencing of microbial assemblages associated to seeds, germinating seeds and seedlings. By analyzing the corresponding metagenomes, we observed an enrichment of Enterobacteriales and Pseudomonadales during emergence and a set of functional traits linked to copiotrophy that could be responsible for this selection as a result of an increase of nutrient availability after germination. In addition, a metatranscriptomics analysis was performed on the same samples to observe differences in expression patterns. We will also compare all the metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data obtained in the course of this project (from seeds, germinating seeds and seedlings) with other metagenomic and metatranscriptomic public datasets from other plant habitats (such as the phyllosphere and the rhizosphere). Altogether, the data from this work will determine the significance of seed microbial communities during germination and emergence and will contribute to a more holistic understanding of the plant microbiome. In addition, these data might help to design an efficient strategy for selecting seed microbial inoculants.
I graduated in Biology at the University of Granada (Spain). My attraction for microbial diversity started while I was an undergraduate student and continued during my PhD at the “Estacion Experimental del Zaidin” (CSIC-Granada; Spain). During my PhD, I analyzed the bacterial rhizosphere community associated to different cactus in a natural park in Mexico. From a more applied perspective, I also studied the lipolytic enzymes and antibiotic resistance reservoir of these bacterial communities. After successfully obtaining my PhD, I decided to pursue the goal of completing the knowledge acquired during my PhD with some insight into fungal diversity. For this purpose, I joined the Genetic section of the University of Munich (LMU), where I would be working with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). During my first postdoctoral year I worked on the molecular characterization of AMF from environmental communities and during the last years, I was involved in the development and execution of a project focused on a type of Mycoplasma-related endobacteria of AMF. In this project, we provided evidence of trans-kingdom gene transfer between the endobacteria and their AMF host. Currently, I continue developing my scientific career in bacteria-fungal interactions and microbial diversity as an AgreenSkills fellow, studying bacterial and fungal communities associated with plant seeds.
Torres-Cortés G., Bonneau S, Bouchez O, Genthon C, Briand M, Jacques MA, Barret M, 2018. Copiotrophic traits drive the assembly of plant bacterial microbial community during germination an emergence. Sent to Frontiers in Plant Science (under Plant-Microbe interactions section).
Torres-Cortés G, Ghignone S, Bonfante P, Schüssler A, 2015. Mosaic genome of endobacteria in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi: trans-kingdom gene transfer in an ancient mycoplasma-fungus association. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 112, 7785-7790. With the associated comment: Chih-Horng Kuo “Scrambled and not-so-tiny genomes of fungal endosymbionts”. PNAS. 112 (25) 7622-7623.
Senés-Guerrero C, Torres-Cortés G, Pfeiffer S, Rojas M, Schüssler A, 2013. Potato-associated arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in the Peruvian Andes. Mycorrhiza, 24, 405-417.
Torres-Cortés G, Millán V, et al., 2012. Bacterial community in the rhizosphere of the cactus species Mammillaria carnea during dry and rainy seasons assessed by deep sequencing. Plant and Soil, 357, 275-288.
Aguirre-Garrido JF, Montiel-Lugo D, Hernández-Rodríguez C, Torres-Cortés G, et al., 2012. Bacterial community structure in the rhizosphere of three cactus species from semi-arid highlands in central Mexico. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, 10, 891-904.