, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 109-115

Determination of the impact of continuous defoliation of Lolium perenne and Trifolium repens on bacterial and fungal community structure in rhizosphere soil

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To determine the effects of defoliation on microbial community structure, rhizosphere soil samples were taken pre-, and post-defoliation from the root tip and mature root regions of Trifolium repens L. and Lolium perenne L. Microbial DNA isolated from samples was used to generate polymerase chain reaction–denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis molecular profiles of bacterial and fungal communities. Bacterial plate counts were also obtained. Neither plant species nor defoliation affected the bacterial and fungal community structures in both the root tip and mature root regions, but there were significant differences in the bacterial and fungal community profiles between the two root regions for each plant. Prior to defoliation, there was no difference between plants for bacterial plate counts of soils from the root tip regions; however, counts were greater in the mature root region of L. perenne than T. repens. Bacterial plate counts for T. repens were higher in the root tip than the mature root region. After defoliation, there was no effect of plant type, position along the root or defoliation status on bacterial plate counts, although there were significant increases in bacterial plate counts with time. The results indicate that a general effect existed during maturation in the root regions of each plant, which had a greater impact on microbial community structure than either plant type or the effect of defoliation. In addition there were no generic consequences with regard to microbial populations in the rhizosphere as a response to plant defoliation.