Impacts of Carbon and Flooding on Soil Microbial Communities: Phospholipid Fatty Acid Profiles and Substrate Utilization Patterns
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Phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profiles provide a robust measure that can be used to fingerprint the structure of soil microbial communities, and measure their biomass. A replicated field trial, with gradients in substrate and O2 availability created by straw incorporation and flooding was used to test the ability of PLFA to discriminate soil microbial communities in different management regimes. Another objective was to test the usefulness, on a large scale, of some of the proposed interpretations of PLFA biomarkers. Using a direct gradient statistical analysis method, PLFA profiles were found to be very sensitive to flooding and straw treatments. Relative abundances of monounsaturated fatty acids were reduced with flooding and increased with added carbon, consistent with their proposed interpretations as indicators of aerobic conditions and high substrate availability. The cyclopropyl fatty acids were not useful as taxonomic indicators of respiratory type, although their responses were consistent with their proposed use as growth condition indicators. Branched fatty acids decreased, as a group, in response to high substrate conditions. A specific biomarker for Type II methanotrophs was not found in this rice soil, even under high carbon, low O2 conditions, which resulted in methane exposure in the soil. Direct comparison of PLFA and substrate utilization patterns indicated that Biolog patterns are highly selective, and do not reflect compositional changes in soil communities.
KeywordsStraw Fatty Acid Profile Soil Microbial Community Methanotrophs Phospholipid Fatty Acid
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