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NRT1.1B is associated with root microbiota composition and nitrogen use in field-grown rice

Nitrogen-use efficiency of indica varieties of rice is superior to that of japonica varieties. We apply 16S ribosomal RNA gene profiling to characterize root microbiota of 68 indica and 27 japonica varieties grown in the field. We find that indica and japonica recruit distinct root microbiota. Notably, indica-enriched bacterial taxa are more diverse, and contain more genera with nitrogen metabolism functions, than japonica-enriched taxa. Using genetic approaches, we provide evidence that NRT1.1B, a rice nitrate transporter and sensor, is associated with the recruitment of a large proportion of indica-enriched bacteria. Metagenomic sequencing reveals that the ammonification process is less abundant in the root microbiome of the nrt1.1b mutant. We isolated 1,079 pure bacterial isolates from indica and japonica roots and derived synthetic communities (SynComs). Inoculation of IR24, an indica variety, with an indica-enriched SynCom improved rice growth in organic nitrogen conditions compared with a japonica-enriched SynCom. The links between plant genotype and root microbiota membership established in this study will inform breeding strategies to improve nitrogen use in crops.

Nature Biotechnology

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