Microbial Decomposer Dynamics: Diversity and Functionality Investigated through a Transplantation Experiment in Boreal Forests
Litter decomposition is the main source of mineral nitrogen (N) in terrestrial ecosystem and a key step in carbon (C) cycle. Microbial community is the main decomposer, and its specialization on specific litter is considered at the basis of higher decomposition rate in its natural environment than in other forests. However, there are contrasting evidences on how the microbial community responds to a new litter input and if the mass loss is higher in natural environment. We selected leaf litter from three different plant species across three sites of different altitudinal ranges: oak (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl., 530 m a.s.l), beech (Fagus sylvatica L., 1000 m a.s.l.), rhododendron (Rhododendron ferrugineum L., 1530 m a.s.l.). A complete transplantation experiment was set up within the native site and the other two altitudinal sites. Microbial community structure was analyzed via amplified ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (ARISA) fingerprinting. Functionality was investigated by potential enzyme activities. Chemical composition of litter was recorded. Mass loss showed no faster decomposition rate on native site. Similarly, no influence of site was found on microbial structure, while there was a strong temporal variation. Potential enzymatic activities were not affected by the same temporal pattern with a general increase of activities during autumn. Our results suggested that no specialization in microbial community is present due to the lack of influence of the site in structure and in the mass loss dynamics. Finally, different temporal patterns in microbial community and potential enzymatic activities suggest the presence of functional redundancy within decomposers.
KeywordsBacterial community Fungal community Potential hydrolytic activities Alpine region Functional redundancy
We thank Dr. Christian Ceccon for C and N quantification, and Dr. Maurizio Ventura for providing the data information of Monticolo site. This work was supported by the internal grant by the Free University of Bozen/Bolzano entitled “Leaves degradation in mountain environments - LeDEME” (CUP I52I14000410005). We thank Prof. Giustino Tonon for the access to the Monticolo site area, managed under the NITROFOR project.
LBr conceived the study. AB, LB, SP and CW conducted the fieldwork. AB conducted the molecular and chemical analysis, AB and FF performed enzyme analysis. Statistical analysis was performed by AB and LB. AB drafted the manuscript. All authors read, edited and approved the manuscript.
- 3.Berg B, McClaugherty C (2008) Plant litter. Decomposition, humus formation, carbon sequestration. Springer, USGoogle Scholar
- 13.Snajdr J, Cajthaml T, Valaskova V, Merhautova V, Petrankova M, Spetz P, Leppanen K, Baldrian P (2011) Transformation of Quercus petraea litter: successive changes in litter chemistry are reflected in differential enzyme activity and changes in the microbial community composition. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 75:291–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 18.Purahong W, Schloter M, Pecyna MJ, Kapturska D, Daumlich V, Mital S, Buscot F, Hofrichter M, Gutknecht JL, Kruger D (2014) Uncoupling of microbial community structure and function in decomposing litter across beech forest ecosystems in Central Europe. Sci Rep 4:7014Google Scholar
- 28.Rauzi GM (1963) Indagine chimico-comparativa fra terreni e foraggi dell’Alto Adige e suoi riflessi nel campo agronomico e zootecnico. Accademia Roveretana degli Agiati di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Atti serie VI, 3B:39–64 (in Italian)Google Scholar
- 29.Pertoll G, Pedri U, di Laimburg C d SA, Kobler A, Kobler W (2012) Lagrein: influenza del sito di coltivazione, del terreno e delle modalità di coltivazione sulla qualità dell’uva e del vino. Frutta e Vite 36:58–63Google Scholar
- 31.Cardinale M, Brusetti L, Quatrini P, Borin S, Puglia AM, Rizzi A, Zanardini E, Sorlini C, Corselli C, Daffonchio D (2004) Comparison of different primer sets for use in automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis of complex bacterial communities. Appl Environ Microbiol 70:6147–6156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 34.Bardelli T, Gómez-Brandón M, Ascher-Jenull J, Fornasier F, Arfaioli P, Francioli D, Egli M, Sartori G, Insam H, Pietramellara G (2017) Effects of slope exposure on soil physico-chemical and microbiological properties along an altitudinal climosequence in the Italian Alps. Sci Total Environ 575:1041–1055CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 38.Purahong W, Kapturska D, Pecyna MJ, Schulz E, Schloter M, Buscot F, Hofrichter M, Kruger D (2014) Influence of different forest system management practices on leaf litter decomposition rates, nutrient dynamics and the activity of ligninolytic enzymes: a case study from central European forests. PLoS One 9:e93700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 39.Fox J, Weisberg S (2011) An R companion to applied regression. Sage, CAGoogle Scholar
- 46.Purahong W, Kapturska D, Pecyna MJ, Jariyavidyanont K, Kaunzner J, Juncheed K, Uengwetwanit T, Rudloff R, Schulz E, Hofrichter M, Schloter M, Kruger D, Buscot F (2015) Effects of forest management practices in temperate beech forests on bacterial and fungal communities involved in leaf litter degradation. Microb Ecol 69:905–913CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 49.Cornwell WK, Cornelissen JH, Amatangelo K, Dorrepaal E, Eviner VT, Godoy O, Hobbie SE, Hoorens B, Kurokawa H, Perez-Harguindeguy N, Quested HM, Santiago LS, Wardle DA, Wright IJ, Aerts R, Allison SD, van Bodegom P, Brovkin V, Chatain A, Callaghan TV, Diaz S, Garnier E, Gurvich DE, Kazakou E, Klein JA, Read J, Reich PB, Soudzilovskaia NA, Vaieretti MV, Westoby M (2008) Plant species traits are the predominant control on litter decomposition rates within biomes worldwide. Ecol Lett 11:1065–1071CrossRefGoogle Scholar