Endophytic Fungal Community of Tobacco Leaves and Their Potential Role in the Formation of "Cherry-Red" Tobacco

Front Microbiol. 2021 Jul 16;12:658116. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.658116. eCollection 2021.

ABSTRACT

“Cherry-red” tobacco is the superior variant of tobacco, appearing with the apperance of red dapples on cured leaves due to the demethylation of nicotine to nornicotine during maturation and curing. Fungi are known to have the capacity to convert nicotine to nornicotine. However, an endophytic fungal community of “cherry-red” tobacco has never been reported to our best knowledge. Here, we sampled mature leaves from both “cherry-red” and ordinary tobacco at lower, center, and upper plant sections, and we analyzed the ITS diversity using high-throughput sequencing. Results revealed a significantly different fungal community of foliar endophyte in “cherry-red” and ordinary tobacco. In comparison to the ordinary control, higher diversity and a co-occurrence network complex were found in “cherry-red” samples, especially in the center and upper leaves, where the red dapples mainly emerged. More taxa were enriched in the “cherry-red” than ordinary tobacco leaves at all plant sections. In particular, Aspergillus, some strains of which are reported capable of converting nicotine to nornicotine, was specifically enriched in upper “cherry-red” tobacco leaves, which showed most red dapples after curing. A less robust network structure was detected in the “cherry-red” tobacco compared to ordinary tobacco. The nearest taxon index (NTI) and β NTI indicated that the local community structuration of tobacco endophytic fungi mainly driven by deterministic process, while the community turnover among plant sections was stochastic. In conclusion, our study provides the earliest information of endophytic fungal community in “cherry-red” tobacco leaf, and the community diversity, composition, and network features are synchronously varied with the appearance of red dapples, which is suggestive of their relationship to the formation of “cherry-red” tobacco.

PMID:34335492 | PMC:PMC8323715 | DOI:10.3389/fmicb.2021.658116

Source: Industry