Date: 09 Jul 2014

Impact of fresh root material and mature crop residues of oilseed rape (Brassica napus) on microbial communities associated with subsequent oilseed rape

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Glasshouse bioassays were conducted to assess the impact of different inputs of oilseed rape plant material on soil and rhizosphere microbial diversity associated with subsequently grown oilseed rape (Brassica napus) plants. The first bioassay focussed on the effect of oilseed rape rhizodeposits and fresh detached root material on microbial communities, in a rapid-cycling experiment in which oilseed rape plants were grown successively in pots of field soil for 4 weeks at a time, with six cycles of repeated vegetative planting in the same pot. Molecular analyses of the microbial communities after each cycle showed that the obligate parasite Olpidium brassicae infected the roots of oilseed rape within 4 weeks after the first planting (irrespective of the influence of rhizodeposits alone or in the presence of fresh detached root material), and consistently dominated the rhizosphere fungal community, ranging in relative abundance from 43 to 88 % when oilseed rape was grown more than once in the same soil. Fresh detached root material also led to a reduction in diversity within the soil fungal community, due to the increased relative abundance of O. brassicae. In addition, rhizosphere bacterial communities were found to have a reduced diversity over time when fresh root material was retained in the soil. In the second glasshouse experiment, the effect of incorporating mature, field-derived oilseed rape crop residues (shoots and root material) on microbial communities associated with subsequently grown oilseed rape was investigated. As before, molecular analyses revealed that O. brassicae dominated the rhizosphere fungal community, despite not being prevalent in either the residue material or soil fungal communities.