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Microb Ecol. 2000 Jan;39(1):32-40.

Stability in Natural Bacterial Communities: I. Nutrient Addition Effects on Rhizosphere Diazotroph Assemblage Composition.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA


The ability of rhizosphere diazotrophs to remain competitive during increased nitrogen availability in situ was tested in a salt marsh grass stand. Nitrogen (16.3 g m(-2)) or nitrogen (16.3 g m(-2)) and phosphorus (18.0 g m(-2)) were added to plots of short form Spartina alterniflora for either 2 weeks or 8 weeks. The diazotroph assemblage composition was monitored via the polymerase chain reaction using nifH specific primers followed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis. DGGE profiles from the short-term experiments (2 and 8 weeks) were compared to profiles from control (no additions) and from long-term (>10 y) nutrient addition plots. Nitrogen fixation activity was assayed in each short-term treatment and control plot using an acetylene reduction technique. The control and nutrient addition DGGE profiles were very similar throughout the short-term experiments. One DGGE band that was prominent in the control plots was not found in the long-term nutrient addition plots. Diazotrophy may provide a competitive advantage for some species in this system, as indicated by results from the long-term nutrient amended plots. However, the rhizosphere environment in situ appears to limit the immediate impacts of increased nutrient availability on the diazotroph assemblage composition. Results from the short-term nutrient amended plots showed no measurable effect on the diazotroph assemblage. These results indicate substantial short-term stability of the diazotroph assemblage composition, but the potential for change in the face of long-term changes in nutrient availability. </hea.


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