Highly diverse endophytes in roots of Cycas bifida (Cycadaceae), an ancient but endangered gymnosperm

Ying Zheng, Tzen Yuh Chiang, Chao Li Huang, Xun Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


As an ancient seed plant, cycads are one of the few gymnosperms that develop a root symbiosis with cyanobacteria, which has allowed cycads to cope with harsh geologic and climatic conditions during the evolutionary process. However, the endophytic microbes in cycad roots remain poorly identified. In this study, using next-generation sequencing techniques, we investigated the microbial diversity and composition of both the coralloid and regular roots of Cycas bifida (Dyer) K.D. Hill. Highly diverse endophytic communities were observed in both the coralloid and regular roots. Of the associated bacteria, the top five families were the Nostocaceae, Sinobacteraceae, Bradyrhizobiaceae, Bacillaceae, and Hyphomicrobiaceae. The Nectriaceae, Trichocomaceae, and Incertae sedis were the predominant fungal families in all root samples. A significant difference in the endophytic bacterial community was detected between coralloid roots and regular roots, but no difference was observed between the fungal communities in the two root types. Cyanobacteria were more dominant in coralloid roots than in regular roots. The divergence of cycad root structures and the modified physiological processes may have contributed to the abundance of cyanobionts in coralloid roots. Consequently, the colonization of cyanobacteria inhibits the assemblage of other endophytes. Our results contribute to an understanding of the species diversity and composition of the cycad-endophyte microbiome and provide an abbreviated list of potential ecological roles of the core microbes present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-345
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Microbiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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