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Environ Microbiol. 2006 Sep;8(9):1600-12.

Microbial succession of nitrate-reducing bacteria in the rhizosphere of Poa alpina across a glacier foreland in the Central Alps.

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Institute of Crop Production and Grassland Research, University of Hohenheim, D-70593 Stuttgart, Germany.


Changes in community structure and activity of the dissimilatory nitrate-reducing community were investigated across a glacier foreland in the Central Alps to gain insight into the successional pattern of this functional group and the driving environmental factors. Bulk soil and rhizosphere soil of Poa alpina was sampled in five replicates in August during the flowering stage and in September after the first snowfalls along a gradient from 25 to 129 years after deglaciation and at a reference site outside the glacier foreland (>2000 years deglaciated). In a laboratory-based assay, nitrate reductase activity was determined colorimetrically after 24 h of anaerobic incubation. In selected rhizosphere soil samples, the community structure of nitrate-reducing microorganisms was analysed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis using degenerate primers for the narG gene encoding the active site of the membrane-bound nitrate reductase. Clone libraries of the early (25 years) and late (129 years) succession were constructed and representative clones sequenced. The activity of the nitrate-reducing community increased significantly with age mainly due to higher carbon and nitrate availability in the late succession. The community structure, however, only showed a small shift over the 100 years of soil formation with pH explaining a major part (19%) of the observed variance. Clone library analysis of the early and late succession pointed to a trend of declining diversity with progressing age. Presumably, the pressure of competition on the nitrate reducers was relatively low in the early successional stage due to minor densities of microorganisms compared with the late stage; hence, a higher diversity could persist in this sparse environment. These results suggest that the nitrate reductase activity is regulated by environmental factors other than those shaping the genetic structure of the nitrate-reducing community.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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