The impact of grassland management on archaeal community structure in upland pasture rhizosphere soil


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The community structure of rhizosphere soil Archaea from three grassland types, associated with different management practices, was examined at a site in the Borders region of Scotland, by analysis of 16S rRNA gene fragments amplified from 16S rDNA and from rRNA. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and sequence analysis of amplified products indicated high relative abundance within the archaeal community of two distinct lineages of non-thermophilic (group 1) Crenarchaeota. Grassland management practices influenced archaeal community structure, as characterized by both 16S rRNA- and 16S rDNA-derived DGGE profiles. One band dominated DGGE profiles in all three grassland types examined, and reproducible differences in the presence and intensity of bands were observed between profiles from managed and natural grassland sites. Analysis of 16S rRNA-derived amplicons from managed and natural grasslands at sites in the north of England and the north of Wales also indicated high relative abundance of non-thermophilic crenarchaeotes within the archaeal community. The band dominating the Scottish grassland site also dominated DGGE profiles from the English and Welsh sites, and similar differences were seen between profiles derived from soils subjected to different management regimes. The study indicates that grassland archaeal communities are dominated by Crenarchaeota, with closely related members of this lineage ubiquitous in distribution in UK upland pasture, and indicate that management practices influence the nature of the crenarchaeotal community.