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Microb Ecol. 2002 Oct;44(3):260-70. Epub 2002 Sep 6.

Bacterial community dynamics across a floristic gradient in a temperate upland grassland ecosystem.

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Department of Industrial Microbiology, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.


Alterations in soil bacterial communities across a transect between a semi natural upland grassland and an agriculturally improved enclosure were assessed using culture-based methods and a nucleic-acid-based method, terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP). While plant diversity decreased across the transect towards the improved area, numbers of 16S rDNA terminal restriction fragments increased, indicating an increase in numbers of bacterial ribotypes. Bacterial numbers, microbial activity, and potential functional diversity also followed a similar trend, increasing with decreasing plant diversity. Alterations in bacterial community structure were coincident with changes in soil physicochemical properties which also changed across the transect. Increases in soil pH, nitrate, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium occurred toward the improved grassland, while organic matter and ammonium declined. The inverse relationship between floristic diversity and bacterial ribotype numbers suggests that soil physicochemical factors may be as influential in determining bacterial diversity in soils of upland grassland communities as floristic diversity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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