Replicating Arabidopsis Model Leaf Surfaces for Phyllosphere Microbiology
Artifcial surfaces are commonly used in place of leaves in phyllosphere microbiology to study microbial behaviour on plant leaf surfaces. These surfaces enable a reductionist approach to be undertaken, to enable individual environmental factors infuencing microorganisms to be studied. Commonly used artifcial surfaces include nutrient agar, isolated leaf cuticles, and reconstituted leaf waxes. Recently, replica surfaces mimicking the complex topography of leaf surfaces for phyllosphere microbiology studies are appearing in literature. Replica leaf surfaces have been produced in agar, epoxy, polystyrene, and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). However, none of these protocols are suitable for replicating fragile leaves such as of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. This is of importance, as A. thaliana is a model system for molecular plant genetics, molecular plant biology, and microbial ecology. To overcome this limitation, we introduce a versatile replication protocol for replicating fragile leaf surfaces into PDMS. Here we demonstrate the capacity of our replication process using optical microscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and contact angle measurements to compare living and PDMS replica A. thaliana leaf surfaces. To highlight the use of our replica leaf surfaces for phyllosphere microbiology, we visualise bacteria on the replica leaf surfaces in comparison to living leaf surfaces.