Soil and plant factors driving the community of soil-borne microorganisms across chronosequences of secondary succession of chalk grasslands with a neutral pH

Authors

  • Eiko Kuramae,

    1. Department of Microbial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen, The Netherlands
    2. Institute of Ecological Science, Free University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Hannes Gamper,

    1. Institute of Botany, University Basel, Basel, Switzerland
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  • Johannes van Veen,

    1. Department of Microbial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen, The Netherlands
    2. Institute of Biology, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands
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  • George Kowalchuk

    1. Department of Microbial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen, The Netherlands
    2. Institute of Ecological Science, Free University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Editor: Christoph Tebbe

Correspondence: Eiko Kuramae, Department of Microbial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Droevendaalsesteeg 10, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands. Tel.: +31 317 473502; fax: +31 317 473675; e-mail: e.kuramae@nioo.knaw.nl

Abstract

Although soil pH has been shown to be an important factor driving microbial communities, relatively little is known about the other potentially important factors that shape soil-borne microbial community structure. This study examined plant and microbial communities across a series of neutral pH fields (pH=7.0–7.5) representing a chronosequence of secondary succession after former arable fields were taken out of production. These fields ranged from 17 to >66 years since the time of abandonment, and an adjacent arable field was included as a reference. Hierarchical clustering analysis, nonmetric multidimensional scaling and analysis of similarity of 52 different plant species showed that the plant community composition was significantly different in the different chronosequences, and that plant species richness and diversity increased with time since abandonment. The microbial community structure, as analyzed by phylogenetic microarrays (PhyloChips), was significantly different in arable field and the early succession stage, but no distinct microbial communities were observed for the intermediate and the late succession stages. The most determinant factors in shaping the soil-borne microbial communities were phosphorous and NH4+. Plant community composition and diversity did not have a significant effect on the belowground microbial community structure or diversity.

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