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Soil potassium is correlated with root secondary metabolites and root-associated core bacteria in licorice of different ages

Yang Liu, Yanmei Li, Wen Luo, Shuang Liu, Weimin Chen, Chun Chen, Shuo Jiao, Gehong Wei

Plant and Soil

DOI:10.1007/s11104-020-04692-0

Abstract

Aims: Licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch.) is a crucial medicinal herb as it accumulates glycyrrhizin and liquiritin in roots. Licorice root-associated bacterial communities shaped by soil characteristics are supposed to regulate the accumulation of root secondary metabolites.

Methods: The soil characteristics, root secondary metabolites, and root-associated bacterial communities were analyzed in licorice plants of different ages to explore their temporal dynamics and interaction mechanisms.

Results: Temporal variation in soil characteristics and root secondary metabolites was distinct. The alpha-diversity of root-associated bacterial communities decreased with root proximity, and the community composition was clustered in the rhizosphere. Different taxa that were core-enriched from the dominant taxa in the bulk soil, rhizosphere soil, and root endosphere displayed varied time-decay relationships. Soil total potassium (TK) as a key factor regulated the temporal variation in some individual taxa in the bulk and rhizosphere soils; these taxa were associated with the adjustment of root secondary metabolites across different TK levels.

Conclusions: Licorice specifically selects root-associated core bacteria over the course of plant development, and TK is correlated with root secondary metabolites and individual core-enriched taxa in the bulk and rhizosphere soils, which may have implications for practical licorice cultivation.