, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 1-11
Date: 17 Nov 2005

Trophic interactions between rhizosphere bacteria and bacterial feeders influenced by phosphate and aphids in barley

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The aim was to study the effects of P fertilization and leaf aphid attack on the trophic interactions of bacteria and bacterial feeders in the rhizospheres of barley plants. The density of protozoa peaked in the rhizospheres of plants fertilized with N and P, whereas nematodes peaked in the rhizospheres of plants to which only N had been added. Fingerprinting of bacterial communities by length heterogeneity polymerase chain reaction revealed differences in community structure between NP rhizospheres and N rhizospheres as well as aphid-related differences within N rhizospheres. Specifically, α-proteobacteria increased with P addition. To evaluate if differences in bacteria in terms of their quality as food could partly explain the observed differences in protozoan and nematode abundances, growth of the flagellate Cercomonas sp. was assessed with 935 bacteria isolated from the different treatments. This assay indicated that bacterial isolates were of higher food quality to Cercomonas sp. in NP than in N rhizospheres when plants were subjected to aphid attack. Bacteria of high and low food quality for Cercomonas sp., respectively, were fed to the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and larval production examined. α-Proteobacteria supported the growth of Cercomonas sp. well, whereas Actinobacteria did not. In contrast, C. elegans reproduced poorly on most α-proteobacteria but were able to reproduce well on some Actinobacteria. These results suggest that the different response of protozoa and nematodes to P addition could be mediated through a food quality-related change in community composition of bacteria and that leaf aphid attack may interfere with nutrient effects on bacterial assemblages of rhizospheres.