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Data from: The impact of bacteriophages on phyllosphere bacterial abundance and composition

Cite this dataset

Morella, Norma M. et al. (2018). Data from: The impact of bacteriophages on phyllosphere bacterial abundance and composition [Dataset]. Dryad.


Interactions between bacteria and bacteriophage viruses (phages) are known to influence pathogen growth and virulence, microbial diversity, and even biogeochemical cycling. Lytic phages in particular infect and lyse their host cells, and can therefore have significant effects on cell densities as well as competitive dynamics within microbial communities. Despite the known impacts of lytic phages on the ecology and evolution of bacteria in free-living communities, little is known about the role of lytic phages in host-associated microbiomes. We set out to characterize the impact of phages in the tomato phyllosphere, i.e., the bacteria associated with above-ground plant tissues, by transferring microbial communities from field-grown tomato plants to juvenile plants grown under mostly sterile conditions in either the presence or absence of their associated phage community. In three separate experiments, we found that the presence of phages affects overall bacterial abundance during colonization of new host plants. Furthermore, bacterial community analysis using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing shows that phages significantly alter the relative abundance of dominant community members and can influence both within- and among-host diversity. These results underscore the importance of lytic phages in host-associated microbiomes and are relevant to microbiome transplantation approaches, as they suggest transferring non-bacterial components of the microbiome among hosts is likely to have a strong impact on growth of both the resident and donor microbiota.

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