- (1) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
- (2) Agroscope, grid.417771.3
- (3) Aarhus University, grid.7048.b, AU
- (4) Brock University, grid.411793.9
Metarhizium spp. have recently been shown to be associated with the roots of different plants. Here we evaluated which Metarhizium species were associated with roots of oat (Avena sativa), rye (Secale cereale) and cabbage (Brassica oleracea), common crop plants in Denmark. Thirty-six root samples from each of the three crops were collected within an area of approximately 3ha. The roots were rinsed with sterile water, homogenized and the homogenate plated onto selective media. A subset of 126 Metarhizium isolates were identified to species by sequencing of the 5' end of the gene translation elongation factor 1-alpha and characterized by simple sequence repeat (SSR) analysis of 14 different loci. Metarhizium brunneum was the most common species isolated from plant roots (84.1% of all isolates), while M. robertsii (11.1%) and M. majus (4.8%) comprised the remainder. The SSR analysis revealed that six multilocus genotypes (MLGs) were present among the M. brunneum and M. robertsii isolates, respectively. A single MLG of M. brunneum represented 66.7%, 79.1% and 79.2% of the total isolates obtained from oat, rye and cabbage, respectively. The isolation of Metarhizium spp. and their MLGs from roots revealed a comparable community composition as previously reported from the same agroecosystem when insect baiting of soil samples was used as isolating technique. No specific MLG association with a certain crop was found. This study highlights the diversity of Metarhizium spp. found in the rhizosphere of different crops within a single agroecosystem and suggests that plants either recruit fungal associates from the surrounding soil environment or even govern the composition of Metarhizium populations.