Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 1–6 | Cite as

Rapid changes in the rhizosphere bacterial community structure during re-colonization of sterilized soil

  • Petra MarschnerEmail author
  • Angelika Rumberger
Original Paper


Diversity has been shown to be pivotal in ecosystem stability and resilience. It is therefore important to increase our knowledge about the development of diversity. The aim of this study was to investigate the temporal dynamics of the bacterial community structure in the rhizosphere of wheat plants growing in a soil in which the initial conditions for bacterial re-colonization were modified by mixing different amounts of sterilized with native soil at ratios of 19:1, 9:1, 4:1 and 1:1. Additional treatments comprised sterilized soil or native soil. Plant dry weight at day 20 decreased with increasing percentage of native soil in the mix. The bacterial community structure in the rhizosphere was assessed by polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) at days 3, 14 and 20 after planting. The bacterial community in the sterilized soil had a lower diversity and evenness than the native soil. Both diversity and evenness increased with time in the sterilized soil. Community structure in the different mixes changed over time and the changes were mix-specific. Principal component analyses of the DGGE banding patterns showed clear differences between the treatments particularly at day 3 and day 14 and revealed changes in community structure within a few days in a given treatment. The results of the present study show that bacterial communities rapidly re-colonize sterilized soil. During re-colonization, the community structure changes rapidly with a general trend towards higher diversity and evenness. The changes in community structure over time are also affected by the amount of sterile substrate to be re-colonized.


Succession Bacterial community structure Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis Diversity Rhizosphere 



We would like to thank Prof. Reinhard Lieberei from the Institute for Applied Botany, University of Hamburg, Germany for his support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Applied BotanyUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Soil and Land Systems, School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of AdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Department of HorticultureCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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