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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 Jul;76(14):4780-7. doi: 10.1128/AEM.03040-09. Epub 2010 May 28.

Influence of forest trees on the distribution of mineral weathering-associated bacterial communities of the Scleroderma citrinum mycorrhizosphere.

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  • 1UMR 1136 INRA Nancy Université, Interactions Arbres-Microorganismes, 54280 Champenoux, France.


In acidic forest soils, availability of inorganic nutrients is a tree-growth-limiting factor. A hypothesis to explain sustainable forest development proposes that tree roots select soil microbes involved in central biogeochemical processes, such as mineral weathering, that may contribute to nutrient mobilization and tree nutrition. Here we showed, by combining soil analyses with cultivation-dependent analyses of the culturable bacterial communities associated with the widespread mycorrhizal fungus Scleroderma citrinum, a significant enrichment of bacterial isolates with efficient mineral weathering potentials around the oak and beech mycorrhizal roots compared to bulk soil. Such a difference did not exist in the rhizosphere of Norway spruce. The mineral weathering ability of the bacterial isolates was assessed using a microplaque assay that measures the pH and the amount of iron released from biotite. Using this microplate assay, we demonstrated that the bacterial isolates harboring the most efficient mineral weathering potential belonged to the Burkholderia genus. Notably, previous work revealed that oak and beech harbored very similar pHs in the 5- to 10-cm horizon in both rhizosphere and bulk soil environments. In the spruce rhizosphere, in contrast, the pH was significantly lower than that in bulk soil. Because the production of protons is one of the main mechanisms responsible for mineral weathering, our results suggest that certain tree species have developed indirect strategies for mineral weathering in nutrient-poor soils, which lie in the selection of bacterial communities with efficient mineral weathering potentials.

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