, Volume 807, Issue 1, pp 131–144 | Cite as

Effects of plant species on stream bacterial communities via leachate from leaf litter

  • Adam S. WymoreEmail author
  • Elena Salpas
  • Giorgio Casaburi
  • Cindy M. Liu
  • Lance B. Price
  • Bruce A. Hungate
  • William H. McDowell
  • Jane C. Marks
Primary Research Paper


Leaf litter provides an important resource to forested stream ecosystems. During leaf fall a significant amount of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) enters streams as leaf leachate. We compared the effects of plant species and leaf leachate bioavailability on the composition of stream bacterial communities and rates of DOC decomposition. We used four common riparian tree species that varied in foliar chemistry, leachate optical properties, and litter decomposition rate. We used laboratory microcosms from two streams and amended with a standard concentration of DOC derived from leaf leachate of the four tree species. After 24 h, we measured rates of DOC biodegradation and determined the composition of the bacterial communities via bar-coded pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. The composition, diversity, and abundance of the bacterial community differed significantly among plant species from both streams. The phylogenetic distance of the different bacterial communities correlated with species-specific leachate optical properties and rates of DOC biodegradation. Highest rates of DOC decomposition were associated with high tannin and lignin leaf types. Results demonstrate that riparian plant species strongly influences stream bacterial communities via their leachate suggesting that alterations to the presence or abundance of riparian plant taxa may influence these communities and associated ecosystem processes.


Dissolved organic carbon Leaf litter Streams 16S rRNA Fluorescence spectroscopy 



This Project benefited from discussions with E. Schwartz. Assistance from B. Moan, J. Potter, and T. Contente is appreciated. Funding came from the National Science Foundation (DEB-1120343 and DEB-1119843). ASW was funded by the National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) and GK-12 Programs.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 359 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 167 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (PDF 166 kb)
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Supplementary material 4 (PDF 127 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam S. Wymore
    • 1
    • 7
    Email author return OK on get
  • Elena Salpas
    • 1
  • Giorgio Casaburi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Cindy M. Liu
    • 1
    • 4
  • Lance B. Price
    • 4
    • 5
  • Bruce A. Hungate
    • 1
    • 6
  • William H. McDowell
    • 7
  • Jane C. Marks
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  2. 2.CEINGE - Biotecnologie Avanzate, S.c. a.r.l.NaplesItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Medicina Molecolare e Biotecnologie MedicheUniversita di Napoli Federico IINaplesItaly
  4. 4.Translational Genomics Research InstituteFlagstaffUSA
  5. 5.School of Public Health and Health ServicesGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  6. 6.Center for Ecosystem Science and SocietyNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  7. 7.Department of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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