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ISME J. 2011 Mar;5(3):389-402. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2010.138. Epub 2010 Sep 30.

Seasonality and resource availability control bacterial and archaeal communities in soils of a temperate beech forest.

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AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Bioresources Unit, Seibersdorf, Austria.


It was hypothesized that seasonality and resource availability altered through tree girdling were major determinants of the phylogenetic composition of the archaeal and bacterial community in a temperate beech forest soil. During a 2-year field experiment, involving girdling of beech trees to intercept the transfer of easily available carbon (C) from the canopy to roots, members of the dominant phylogenetic microbial phyla residing in top soils under girdled versus untreated control trees were monitored at bimonthly intervals through 16S rRNA gene-based terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism profiling and quantitative PCR analysis. Effects on nitrifying and denitrifying groups were assessed by measuring the abundances of nirS and nosZ genes as well as bacterial and archaeal amoA genes. Seasonal dynamics displayed by key phylogenetic and nitrogen (N) cycling functional groups were found to be tightly coupled with seasonal alterations in labile C and N pools as well as with variation in soil temperature and soil moisture. In particular, archaea and acidobacteria were highly responsive to soil nutritional and soil climatic changes associated with seasonality, indicating their high metabolic versatility and capability to adapt to environmental changes. For these phyla, significant interrelations with soil chemical and microbial process data were found suggesting their potential, but poorly described contribution to nitrification or denitrification in temperate forest soils. In conclusion, our extensive approach allowed us to get novel insights into effects of seasonality and resource availability on the microbial community, in particular on hitherto poorly studied bacterial phyla and functional groups.

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