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Environ Microbiol. 2005 Apr;7(4):486-98.

Nickel mine spoils revegetation attempts: effect of pioneer plants on two functional bacterial communities involved in the N-cycle.

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1
Ecologie Microbienne, UMR CNRS 5557, Université Lyon I, Bâtiment Mendel, 43 bd du 11 Novembre 1918, F-69622 Villeurbanne cedex, France.

Abstract

Nickel mine spoils in New Caledonia represent an extreme environment, rich in nickel and strongly deficient in elementary elements such as carbon and nitrogen. To rehabilitate these sites, revegetation attempts are performed with endemic plant species establishing dinitrogen-fixation symbiosis (Gymnostoma webbianum and Serianthes calycina). As this biological fixation process provides the major source of available nitrogen in this extreme environment, it could be expected that nitrogen cycling would be stimulated. To study the revegetation effect on mine spoils, the effect of the two pioneer plants on the structure and activity of two functional bacterial communities involved in the N-cycle was investigated. nifH and narG genes were used as molecular markers for dinitrogen-fixers and dissimilatory nitrate reducers respectively. In order to assess the influence of the plants on both communities, nine clone libraries were constructed for each targeted gene. Libraries containing 602 and 513 nifH and narG clones, respectively, were screened by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis. One hundred and forty-one and 78 representative clones from at least all RFLP families containing more than one clone were sequenced from nifH and narG clone libraries respectively. Both pioneer plants modified the diversity and activity of the two functional communities. However, distinct effects were observed depending on the plant species and the community considered. Serianthes calycina strongly selected a diazotroph phylotype and restored the potential activity of both communities. In contrast, G. webbianum selected no particular phylotype and only restored a fixing activity.

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