Forest leaves are teeming with bacterial life — but despite the vast extent of bacteria-covered foliage across the world, this habitat, known as the phyllosphere, remains full of mysteries. How do bacteria spread from tree to tree? Do certain types of bacteria only live on certain types of trees?
A new paper published in the Ecological Society of America’s journal Ecological Monographs addresses some of these questions. The findings reveal that the leaf microbiomes of sugar maple trees vary across the species’ range, changing in accordance with the types of trees in the surrounding “neighborhood.”
Geneviève Lajoie, now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia and the paper’s lead author, performed the research as a Ph.D. student at the Université du Québec à Montréal. She and her field assistant spent a summer in hot pursuit of bacteria-covered foliage, camping at remote parks and rushing to get their leaf