Prolonged drought imparts lasting compositional changes to the rice root microbiome

Christian Santos-Medellín, Zachary Liechty, Joseph Edwards, Bao Nguyen, Bihua Huang, Bart C. Weimer, Venkatesan Sundaresan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Microbial symbioses can mitigate drought stress in crops but harnessing these beneficial interactions will require an in-depth understanding of root microbiome responses to drought cycles. Here, by detailed temporal characterization of root-associated microbiomes of rice plants during drought stress and recovery, we find that endosphere communities remained compositionally altered after rewatering, with prolonged droughts leading to decreased resilience. Several endospheric Actinobacteria were significantly enriched during drought and for weeks after rewatering. Notably, the most abundant endosphere taxon during this period was a Streptomyces, and a corresponding isolate promoted root growth. Additionally, drought stress disrupted the temporal dynamics of late-colonizing microorganisms, permanently altering the normal successional trends of root microbiota. These findings reveal that severe drought results in enduring impacts on rice root microbiomes, including enrichment of taxonomic groups that could shape the recovery response of the host, and have implications relevant to drought protection strategies using root microbiota.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1065-1077
Number of pages13
JournalNature Plants
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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