Endospheric Microbiome Variation Across Wild vs. Cultivated-Type Populations of the Bowellia Sacra Tree



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The Boswellia sacra (Burseraceae family) is an air-land tree endemic to Oman and Yemen. It is one of the key producers of high-quality frankincense – culturally, medicinally, religiously, and economically valuable resin. The tree population faces severe regeneration issues due to unsustainable resin harvesting and climate change. Since endophytic microbes play a crucial role in plant growth, here, we aimed to understand the endophytic microbiome structure and variation across tree populations growing in the wild (unwatered) and cultivated-type (watered) conditions. The amplicon sequencing and in-depth bioinformatic analysis showed the existence of amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) for vast bacterial and fungal communities within the roots and shoots of the B. sacra samples. Overall, the cultivated-type population showed significantly higher ASVs in root compared to shoot and wild-type samples. Among the bacterial communities, 23 major phyla were found, with the most significant presence of Proteobacteria, and substantial amounts of Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, and Bacteroidota in both populations. The diversity and abundance of the microbiome varied significantly between the root and shoot parts. Among the fungal communities, two significant phyla, Ascomycota, and Basidiomycota were most prominent, and substantial amounts of Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Tylospora were found at the genus level. In addition, significantly higher amounts of nutrients, calcium, magnesium, and organic acids (citric and malic acids) were found in the cultivated-type trees compared to the wild tree populations. In conclusion, these findings suggest that microbial abundance can play an important role in the survival and health of plants in harsh, arid, environmental conditions. This study advances our knowledge about the core-bacterial microbiome associated with this considerable tree.



Microbiome, Endosphere, Frankincense, Boswellia sacra, Microbial diversity, Bacterial communities, Fungal communities