The influence of sampling strategies and spatial variation on the detected soil bacterial communities under three different land-use types


  • Present address: Catherine A. Osborne, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, 130 Mulford Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3114, USA.

  • Editor: Michael Schloter

Alan E. Richardson, CSIRO Plant Industry, GPO Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia. Tel.:/fax: +61 2 6246 5189; e-mail:


To determine the influence of pooling strategies on detected soil bacterial communities, we sampled 45 soil cores each from a eucalypt woodland, a sown pasture and a revegetated site in an Australian landscape. We assessed the spatial variation within each land-use plot, including the influence of sampling distance, soil chemical characteristics and, where appropriate, proximity to trees on the soil bacterial community, by generating terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism profiles of the bacterial 16S rRNA genes. The soil bacterial community under the revegetated site was more similar to the original woodland than the pasture, and this result was found regardless of the soil- or the DNA-pooling strategy used. Analyzing as few as eight cores per plot was sufficient to detect significant differences between the bacterial communities under the different plots to be distinguished. Soil pH was found to be most strongly associated with soil bacterial community composition within the plots and there was no association found with proximity to trees. This study has investigated sampling strategies for further research into the transitions of soil microbial communities with land-use change across broader temporal and spatial scales.