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Accounting for variability in soil microbial communities of temperate upland grasslands.

Grayston, S. and Griffiths, G. and Mawdsley, J. L. and Campbell, C. and Bardgett, Richard D. (2001) Accounting for variability in soil microbial communities of temperate upland grasslands. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 33 (4-5). pp. 533-551. ISSN 0038-0717

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Abstract

This study aimed to determine the factors which regulate soil microbial community organisation and function in temperate upland grassland ecosystems. Soil microbial biomass (Cmic), activity (respiration and potential carbon utilisation) and community structure (phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis, culturing and community level physiological profiles (CLPP) (Biolog®)) were measured across a gradient of three upland grassland types; Festuca–Agrostis–Galium grassland (unimproved grassland, National Vegetation Classification (NVC) — U4a); Festuca–Agrostis–Galium grassland, Holcus–Trifolium sub-community (semi-improved grassland, NVC — U4b); Lolium–Cynosurus grassland (improved grassland, NVC — MG6) at three sites in different biogeographic areas of the UK over a period of 1 year. Variation in Cmic was mainly due to grassland type and site (accounting for 55% variance, v, in the data). Cmic was significantly (P<0.001) high in the unimproved grassland at Torridon (237.4 g C m−2 cf. 81.2 g C m−2 in semi- and 63.8 g C m−2 in improved grasslands) and Sourhope (114.6 g C m−2 cf. in 44.8 g C m−2 semi- and 68.3 g C m−2 in improved grasslands) and semi-improved grassland at Abergwyngregyn (76.0 g C m−2 cf. 41.7 g C m−2 in un- and 58.3 g C m−2 in improved grasslands). Cmic showed little temporal variation (v=3.7%). Soil microbial activity, measured as basal respiration was also mainly affected by grassland type and site (n=32%). In contrast to Cmic, respiration was significantly (P<0.001) high in the improved grassland at Sourhope (263.4 l h−1m−2 cf. 79.6 l h−1m−2 in semi- and 203.9 l h−1m−2 unimproved grasslands) and Abergwyngregyn (198.8 l h−1m−2 cf. 173.7 l h−1m−2 in semi- and 88.2 l h−1m−2 unimproved grasslands). Microbial activity, measured as potential carbon utilisation, agreed with the respiration measurements and was significantly (P<0.001) high in the improved grassland at all three sites (A590 0.14 cf. 0.09 in semi- and 0.07 in unimproved grassland). However, date of sampling also had a significant (P<0.001) impact on C utilisation potential (v=24.7%) with samples from April 1997 having highest activity at all three sites. Variation in microbial community structure was due, predominantly, to grassland type (average v=23.6% for bacterial and fungal numbers and PLFA) and date of sampling (average v=39.7% for bacterial and fungal numbers and PLFA). Numbers of culturable bacteria and bacterial PLFA were significantly (P<0.001) high in the improved grassland at all three sites. Fungal populations were significantly (P<0.01) high in the unimproved grassland at Sourhope and Abergwyngregyn. The results demonstrate a shift in soil microbial community structure from one favouring fungi to one favouring bacteria as grassland improvement increased. Numbers of bacteria and fungi were also significantly (P<0.001) higher in August than any other sampling date. Canonical variate analysis (CVA) of the carbon utilisation data significantly (P<0.05) differentiated microbial communities from the three grassland types, mainly due to greater utilisation of sugars and citric acid in the improved grasslands compared to greater utilisation of carboxylic acids, phenolics and neutral amino acids in the unimproved grasslands, possibly reflecting substrate availability in these grasslands. Differences in Cmic, activity and community structure between grassland types were robust over time. In addition, broad scale measures of microbial growth and activity (Cmic and respiration) showed little temporal variation compared to measures of soil microbial community structure, which varied quantitatively with respect to environmental variables (temperature, moisture) and plant productivity, hence substrate supply.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Soil Biology and Biochemistry
Uncontrolled Keywords: Biolog ; Grassland ; Soil microbial biomass ; Soil microbial community structure ; PLFA ; Respiration ; Temporal variation ; Grazing
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Psychology
Faculty of Science and Technology > Lancaster Environment Centre
ID Code: 10303
Deposited By: Prof Richard Bardgett
Deposited On: 10 Jul 2008 16:39
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2013 10:49
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/10303

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