Plant community composition affects the biomass, activity and diversity of soil microorganisms in reconstituted calcareous grassland

David Johnson, R. E. Booth, A. S. Whiteley, M. J. Bailey, David Read, J. P. Grime, J. R. Leake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

The diversity and functional type of plants can affect the microbial biomass in the soil, its respiratory activity and the diversity of its bacterial population. We have studied these effects in microcosms of reconstituted limestone grassland containing (i) a 12-species mixture of graminoids and forbs, (ii) a monoculture of the sedge Carex flacca, (iii) a monoculture of the grass Festuca ovina, and (iv) similar soil without plants. Microbial biomass was significantly greater in soil under monocultures of F. ovina than in the other microcosms. Basal respiration was largest in the F. ovina and mixed-species treatments where values were more than double those in the C. flacca and bare soil microcosms. The basal respiration was strongly linearly related to plant productivity (r=0.89). Analysis of the active bacterial population by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of 16S rRNA revealed its diversity to be significantly greater in the C. flacca and bare soil treatments than in the F. ovina or mixed-species microcosms. This suggests that the functional type of plants has a strong influence on the composition of the bacterial community. We hypothesize that the discriminating functional attribute leading to a reduction of bacterial diversity in these microcosms was the presence in the F. ovina and mixed-plant communities of an active arbuscular-mycorrhizal mycelium that is absent from bare soil and monocultures of C. flacca.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-678
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Volume54
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Keywords

  • ARBUSCULAR MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI
  • MICROBIAL BIOMASS
  • RIBOSOMAL-RNA
  • ROOTS
  • COLONIZATION
  • RESPIRATION
  • RHIZOSPHERE
  • ECOSYSTEMS
  • BACTERIA
  • ACID

Cite this

Plant community composition affects the biomass, activity and diversity of soil microorganisms in reconstituted calcareous grassland. / Johnson, David; Booth, R. E.; Whiteley, A. S.; Bailey, M. J.; Read, David; Grime, J. P.; Leake, J. R.

In: European Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 54, 2003, p. 671-678.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Johnson, David ; Booth, R. E. ; Whiteley, A. S. ; Bailey, M. J. ; Read, David ; Grime, J. P. ; Leake, J. R. / Plant community composition affects the biomass, activity and diversity of soil microorganisms in reconstituted calcareous grassland. In: European Journal of Soil Science. 2003 ; Vol. 54. pp. 671-678.
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AU - Read, David

AU - Grime, J. P.

AU - Leake, J. R.

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AB - The diversity and functional type of plants can affect the microbial biomass in the soil, its respiratory activity and the diversity of its bacterial population. We have studied these effects in microcosms of reconstituted limestone grassland containing (i) a 12-species mixture of graminoids and forbs, (ii) a monoculture of the sedge Carex flacca, (iii) a monoculture of the grass Festuca ovina, and (iv) similar soil without plants. Microbial biomass was significantly greater in soil under monocultures of F. ovina than in the other microcosms. Basal respiration was largest in the F. ovina and mixed-species treatments where values were more than double those in the C. flacca and bare soil microcosms. The basal respiration was strongly linearly related to plant productivity (r=0.89). Analysis of the active bacterial population by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of 16S rRNA revealed its diversity to be significantly greater in the C. flacca and bare soil treatments than in the F. ovina or mixed-species microcosms. This suggests that the functional type of plants has a strong influence on the composition of the bacterial community. We hypothesize that the discriminating functional attribute leading to a reduction of bacterial diversity in these microcosms was the presence in the F. ovina and mixed-plant communities of an active arbuscular-mycorrhizal mycelium that is absent from bare soil and monocultures of C. flacca.

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KW - RIBOSOMAL-RNA

KW - ROOTS

KW - COLONIZATION

KW - RESPIRATION

KW - RHIZOSPHERE

KW - ECOSYSTEMS

KW - BACTERIA

KW - ACID

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JF - European Journal of Soil Science

SN - 1351-0754

ER -