Minerals in soil select distinct bacterial communities in their microhabitats


  • Editor: Kornelia Smalla

Correspondence: Jennifer K. Carson, Soil Biology Group, School of Earth and Geographical Sciences M087, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley 6009, WA, Australia. Tel.: +61 8 6488 3595; fax: +61 8 6488 1050; e-mail: jdavis@graduate.uwa.edu.au


We tested the hypothesis that different minerals in soil select distinct bacterial communities in their microhabitats. Mica (M), basalt (B) and rock phosphate (RP) were incubated separately in soil planted with Trifolium subterraneum, Lolium rigidum or left unplanted. After 70 days, the mineral and soil fractions were separated by sieving. Automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis was used to determine whether the bacterial community structure was affected by the mineral, fraction and plant treatments. Principal coordinate plots showed clustering of bacterial communities from different fraction and mineral treatments, but not from different plant treatments. Permutational multivariate anova (permanova) showed that the microhabitats of M, B and RP selected bacterial communities different from each other in unplanted and L. rigidum, and in T. subterraneum, bacterial communities from M and B differed (P<0.046). permanova also showed that each mineral fraction selected bacterial communities different from the surrounding soil fraction (P<0.05). This study shows that the structure of bacterial communities in soil is influenced by the mineral substrates in their microhabitat and that minerals in soil play a greater role in bacterial ecology than simply providing an inert matrix for bacterial growth. This study suggests that mineral heterogeneity in soil contributes to the spatial variation in bacterial communities.