Cytokinin drives assembly of the phyllosphere microbiome and promotes disease resistance through structural and chemical cues

Rupali Gupta, Dorin Elkabetz, Meirav Leibman-Markus, Tali Sayas, Anat Schneider, Elie Jami, Maya Kleiman, Maya Bar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The plant hormone cytokinin (CK) is an important developmental regulator, promoting morphogenesis and delaying differentiation and senescence. From developmental processes, to growth, to stress tolerance, CKs are central in plant life. CKs are also known to mediate plant immunity and disease resistance, and several classes of microbes can also produce CKs, affecting the interaction with their plant hosts. While host species and genotype can be a driving force in shaping the plant microbiome, how plant developmental hormones such as CK can shape the microbiome is largely uninvestigated. Here, we examined the relationship between CK and the phyllosphere microbiome, finding that CK acts as a selective force in microbiome assembly, increasing richness, and promoting the presence of Firmicutes. CK-mediated immunity was found to partially depend on the microbial community, and bacilli isolated from previously described CK-rich plant genotypes, which overexpress a CK biosynthesis gene or have increased CK sensitivity, induced plant immunity, and promoted disease resistance. Using a biomimetic system, we investigated the relationship between the leaf microstructure, which is differentially patterned upon changes in CK content or signaling, and the growth of different phyllosphere microbes. We found that leaf structures derived from CK-rich plant genotypes support bacilli in the biomimetic system. CK was able to promote the growth, swarming, and biofilm formation of immunity inducing bacillus isolates in vitro. Overall, our results indicate that host genotype and hormonal profiles can act as a strong selective force in microbiome assembly, underlying differential immunity profiles, and pathogen resistance as a result.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-137
Number of pages16
JournalISME Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Microbiology


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