Send to

Choose Destination
ISME J. 2016 Feb;10(2):363-75. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2015.118. Epub 2015 Aug 14.

Long-term effects of timber harvesting on hemicellulolytic microbial populations in coniferous forest soils.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Life Sciences Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Forest ecosystems need to be sustainably managed, as they are major reservoirs of biodiversity, provide important economic resources and modulate global climate. We have a poor knowledge of populations responsible for key biomass degradation processes in forest soils and the effects of forest harvesting on these populations. Here, we investigated the effects of three timber-harvesting methods, varying in the degree of organic matter removal, on putatively hemicellulolytic bacterial and fungal populations 10 or more years after harvesting and replanting. We used stable-isotope probing to identify populations that incorporated (13)C from labeled hemicellulose, analyzing (13)C-enriched phospholipid fatty acids, bacterial 16 S rRNA genes and fungal ITS regions. In soil microcosms, we identified 104 bacterial and 52 fungal hemicellulolytic operational taxonomic units (OTUs). Several of these OTUs are affiliated with taxa not previously reported to degrade hemicellulose, including the bacterial genera Methylibium, Pelomonas and Rhodoferax, and the fungal genera Cladosporium, Pseudeurotiaceae, Capronia, Xenopolyscytalum and Venturia. The effect of harvesting on hemicellulolytic populations was evaluated based on in situ bacterial and fungal OTUs. Harvesting treatments had significant but modest long-term effects on relative abundances of hemicellulolytic populations, which differed in strength between two ecozones and between soil layers. For soils incubated in microcosms, prior harvesting treatments did not affect the rate of incorporation of hemicellulose carbon into microbial biomass. In six ecozones across North America, distributions of the bacterial hemicellulolytic OTUs were similar, whereas distributions of fungal ones differed. Our work demonstrates that diverse taxa in soil are hemicellulolytic, many of which are differentially affected by the impact of harvesting on environmental conditions. However, the hemicellulolytic capacity of soil communities appears resilient.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center