Spatial structure in soil chemical and microbiological properties in an upland grassland.

K. Ritz, J. W. McNicol, N. Nunan, S. J. Grayston, P. Millard, D. Atkinson, A. Gollard, Lesley Anne Glover, A. E. McCaig, James Ivor Prosser

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Abstract

We characterised the spatial structure of soil microbial communities in an unimproved grazed upland grassland in the Scottish Borders. A range of soil chemical parameters, cultivable microbes, protozoa, nematodes, phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profiles, community-level physiological profiles (CLPP), intra-radical arbuscular mycorrhizal community structure, and eubacterial, actinomycete, pseudomonad and ammonia-oxidiser 16S rRNA gene profiles, assessed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) were quantified. The botanical composition of the vegetation associated with each soil sample was also determined. Geostatistical analysis of the data revealed a gamut of spatial dependency with diverse semivariograms being apparent, ranging from pure nugget, linear and non-linear forms. Spatial autocorrelation generally accounted for 40-60% of the total variance of those properties where Such autocorrelation was apparent, but accounted for 97% in the case of nitrate-N. Geostatistical ranges extending from approximately 0.6-6 m were detected, dispersed throughout both chemical and biological properties. CLPP data tended to be associated with ranges greater than 4.5 m. There was no relationship between physical distance in the field and genetic similarity based on DGGE profiles. However, analysis of samples taken as close as I cm apart within a subset of cores suggested some spatial dependency in community DNA-DGGE parameters below an 8 cm scale. Spatial correlation between the properties was generally weak, with some exceptions such as between microbial biomass C and total N and C. There was evidence for scale-dependence in the relationships between properties. PLFA and CLPP profiling showed some association with vegetation composition, but DGGE profiling did not. There was considerably stronger association between notional sheep urine patches, denoted by soil nutrient status, and many of the properties. These data demonstrate extreme spatial variation in community-level microbiological properties in upland grasslands, and that despite considerable numeric ranges in the majority of properties, overarching controlling factors were not apparent. (C) 2004 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-205
Number of pages14
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Volume49
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords

  • spatial variability
  • microbial community
  • grasslands
  • geostatistics
  • MICROBIAL COMMUNITY STRUCTURE
  • 16S RIBOSOMAL-RNA
  • GRADIENT GEL-ELECTROPHORESIS
  • SYNTHETIC SHEEP URINE
  • DIRECT EXTRACTION METHOD
  • BACTERIAL COMMUNITY
  • GEOSTATISTICAL ANALYSIS
  • SCOTTISH UPLANDS
  • TEMPORAL-CHANGES
  • HEAVY-METALS

Cite this

Ritz, K., McNicol, J. W., Nunan, N., Grayston, S. J., Millard, P., Atkinson, D., Gollard, A., Glover, L. A., McCaig, A. E., & Prosser, J. I. (2004). Spatial structure in soil chemical and microbiological properties in an upland grassland. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 49, 191-205. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.femsec.2004.03.005