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Insect pollination: an ecological process involved in the assembly of the seed microbiota

Abstract : The assembly of the seed microbiota involves some early microbial seed colonizers that are transmitted from the maternal plant through the vascular system, while other microbes enter through the stigma. Thus, the seed microbiota consists of microbes not only recruited from the plant vascular tissues, but also from the flower. Flowers are known to be a hub for microbial transmission between plants and insects. This floral-insect exchange opens the possibility for insect-transmitted bacteria to colonize the ovule and, subsequently, the seed to pass then into the next plant generation. In this study, we evaluated the contribution of insect pollination to the seed microbiota through high-throughput sequencing. Oilseed rape (OSR) flowers were exposed to visits and pollination by honey bees (Apis mellifera), red mason bees (Osmia bicornis), hand pollinated or left for autonomous self-pollination (ASP). Sequence analyses revealed that honey bee visitation reduced bacterial richness and diversity in seeds, but increased the variability of seed microbial structure, and introduced bee-associated taxa. In contrast, mason bee pollination had minor effects on the seed microbiota. Our study provides the first evidence that insect pollination is an ecological process involved in the transmission of bacteria from flowers to seeds.
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Alberto Prado Farias, Brice Marolleau, Bernard Vaissière, Matthieu Barret, Gloria Torres-Cortés. Insect pollination: an ecological process involved in the assembly of the seed microbiota. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2020, 10 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41598-020-60591-5⟩. ⟨hal-02623164⟩



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