Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Dmitri Mavrodi

Committee Chair School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Member 2

Dr. Ebrahiem Babiker

Committee Member 3

Dr. Micheal Davis

Committee Member 3 School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences


Blueberries are an important agricultural commodity in all over the United States. Due to its health benefits, there is a huge demand globally, thus expanding the industry. Breeding programs are essential to maintain such industries. Challenges that play a role in contemporary breeding programs are various biotic and abiotic stress factors. Studies have shown that microorganisms are recruited by plants to alleviate them during stressful conditions. Though blueberries have been cultivated for about 100 years, how the microbiome has been affected due to this is poorly understood. We hypothesized that interspecific crosses and artificial selection have significantly changed the microbiome of the blueberry and it has affected the overall community. We tested the hypothesis by comparing the microbiome and metagenome of five different species of blueberry comprising both wild and cultivated species. The results showed that statistically significant differences were seen between the wild and cultivated species of blueberry with respect to the microbial composition of the rhizosphere and root endosphere. The metagenome analysis showed the presence of various metabolic pathways associated with the interaction. The physiological profiling showed the utilization of different carbon sources by the microbes associated with the rhizosphere of the plants. All this information can be used in traditional plant breeding programs. Microbiome-supported breeding should be performed instead of using excessive fertilizers and pesticides and it can be complemented by looking at the interactions involved with key beneficial or pathogenic plant-microbe interactions. This approach can be employed in blueberries to improve their resistance to various stress factors.

Available for download on Saturday, May 11, 2024