Advertisement

Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 1013–1023 | Cite as

Soil microbial community composition and its driving factors in alpine grasslands along a mountain elevational gradient

  • Hai-jun Cui
  • Gen-xu WangEmail author
  • Yan Yang
  • Yang Yang
  • Rui-ying Chang
  • Fei Ran
Article

Abstract

: Understanding the vertical distribution patterns of soil microbial community and its driving factors in alpine grasslands in the humid regions of the Tibet Plateau might be of great significance for predicting the soil microbial community of this type of vegetation in response to environmental change. Using phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA), we investigated soil microbial community composition along an elevational gradient (3094~4131 m above sea level) on Mount Yajiageng, and we explored the impact of plant functional groups and soil chemistry on the soil microbial community. Except for Arbuscular Mycorrhizal fungi (AM fungi) biomarker 18:2ω6,9 increasing significantly, other biomarkers did not show a consistent trend with the elevational gradient. Microbial biomass quantified by total PLFAs did not show the elevational trend and had mean values ranging from 1.64 to 4.09 μmol per g organic carbon (OC), which had the maximum value at the highest site. Bacterial PLFAs exhibited a similar trend with total PLFAs, and its mean values ranged from 0.82 to 1.81 μmol (g OC)-1. The bacterial to fungal biomass ratios had the minimum value at the highest site, which might be related to temperature and soil total nitrogen (TN). The ratios of Gram-negative to Gram-positive bacteria had a significantly negative correlation with soil TN and had the maximum value at the highest site. Leguminous plant coverage and soil TN explained 58% of the total variation in the soil microbial community and could achieve the same interpretation as the whole model. Other factors may influence the soil microbial community through interaction with leguminous plant coverage and soil TN. Soil chemistry and plant functional group composition in substantial amounts explained different parts of the variation within the soil microbial community, and the interaction between them had no impact on the soil microbial community maybe because long-term grazing greatly reduces litter. In sum, although there were obvious differences in soil microbial communities along the elevation gradient, there were no clear elevational trends found in general. Plant functional groups and soil chemistry respectively affect the different aspects of soil microbial community. Leguminous plant coverage and soil TN had important effects in shaping soil microbial community.

Keywords

Alpine grassland Elevational gradient Soil microbial community Phospholipid fatty acid Plant functional group Soil chemistry Variance partitioning 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Supplementary material

11629_2015_3614_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (65 kb)
Supplementary material, approximately 66 KB.

References

  1. Atlas RM, Bartha R (1998) Microbial ecology: fundamentals and applications, fourth ed. Benjamin/Cummings Publication, Menlo Park, CA.Google Scholar
  2. Bååth E, Anderson T-H (2003) Comparison of soil fungal/bacterial ratios in a pH gradient using physiological and PLFA-based techniques. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 35: 955–963. DOI: 10.1016/S0038-0717(03)00154-8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bardgett RD, Freeman C, Ostle NJ (2008) Microbial contributions to climate change through carbon cycle feedbacks. The ISME Journal 2: 805–814. DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2008.58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bever JD (2003) Soil community feedback and the coexistence of competitors: conceptual frameworks and empirical tests. New Phytologist 157: 465–473. DOI: 10.1046/j.1469-8137.2003.00714.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bligh EG, Dyer WJ (1959) A rapid method of total lipid extraction and purification. Canadian journal of biochemistry and physiology 37: 911–917. DOI: 10.1139/o59-099CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bryant JA, Lamanna C, Morlon H, et al. (2008) Microbes on mountainsides: contrasting elevational patterns of bacterial and plant diversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105: 11505–11511. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0801920105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen H, Zhu Q, Peng C, et al. (2013) The impacts of climate change and human activities on biogeochemical cycles on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Global change biology 19: 2940–2955. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen J, Stark JM (2000) Plant species effects and carbon and nitrogen cycling in a sagebrush–crested wheatgrass soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 32: 47–57. DOI: 10.1016/S0038-0717(99)00124-8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Coleman DC, Reid C, Cole C (1983) Biological strategies of nutrient cycling in soil systems. Advances in ecological research 13: 1–55. DOI: 10.1016/S0065-2504(08)60107-5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cui H, Wang G, Yang Y, et al. (2015) Variation in community characteristics of alpine grasslands along elevation gradient and the analysis of its influencing factors. Chinese Journal of Ecology 34: 3016–3023. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  11. Djukic I, Zehetner F, Mentler A, et al. (2010) Microbial community composition and activity in different Alpine vegetation zones. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 42: 155–161. DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2009.10.006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Federle T (1986) Microbial distribution in soil—new techniques. Perspectives in Microbial Ecology. Slovene Society for Microbiology, Ljubljana: 493–498.Google Scholar
  13. Frostegård Å, Bååth E (1996) The use of phospholipid fatty acid analysis to estimate bacterial and fungal biomass in soil. Biology and Fertility of Soils 22: 59–65. DOI: 10.1007/BF00384433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Frostegård Å, Tunlid A, Bååth E. 1991. Microbial biomass measured as total lipid phosphate in soils of different organic content. Journal of Microbiological Methods 14: 151–163. DOI: 10.1016/0167-7012(91)90018-LCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Frostegård Å, Tunlid A, Bååth E (1993) Phospholipid fatty acid composition, biomass, and activity of microbial communities from two soil types experimentally exposed to different heavy metals. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 59: 3605–3617. DOI: 0099-2240/93/113605-13$02.00/0Google Scholar
  16. Grayston SJ, Wang S, Campbell CD, Edwards AC (1998) Selective influence of plant species on microbial diversity in the rhizosphere. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 30: 369–378. DOI: 10.1016/S0038-0717(97)00124-7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Högberg MN, Högberg P, Myrold DD (2007) Is microbial community composition in boreal forest soils determined by pH, C-to-N ratio, the trees, or all three? Oecologia 150: 590–601. DOI: 10.1007/s00442-006-0562-5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hackl E, Pfeffer M, Donat C, et al. (2005) Composition of the microbial communities in the mineral soil under different types of natural forest. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 37: 661–671. DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2004.08.023CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ingham E, Coleman D, Moore J (1989) An analysis of food-web structure and function in a shortgrass prairie, a mountain meadow, and a lodgepole pine forest. Biology and Fertility of Soils 8: 29–37. DOI: 10.1007/BF00260513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kaur A, Chaudhary A, Kaur A, et al. (2005) Phospholipid fatty acid-A bioindicator of environment monitoring and assessment in soil ecosystem. Current Science 89: 1103.Google Scholar
  21. Kourtev P, Ehrenfeld J, Häggblom M (2003) Experimental analysis of the effect of exotic and native plant species on the structure and function of soil microbial communities. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 35: 895–905. DOI: 10.1016/S0038-0717(03)00120-2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kourtev PS, Ehrenfeld JG, Häggblom M (2002) Exotic plant species alter the microbial community structure and function in the soil. Ecology 83: 3152–3166. DOI: 10.1890/0012-9658(2002)083[3152:EPSATM]2.0.CO;2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kroppenstedt R (1985) Fatty acid and menaquinone analysis of actinomycetes and related organisms. Chemical methods in bacterial systematics. No. 20 SAB Technical Series: 173–199.Google Scholar
  24. Long R (2007) Functions of ecosystem in the Tibetan grassland. Science & Technology Rview 25: 26–28. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  25. Männistö MK, Tiirola M, Häggblom MM (2007) Bacterial communities in Arctic fjelds of Finnish Lapland are stable but highly pH-dependent. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 59: 452–465. DOI: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2006.00232.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Margesin R, Jud M, Tscherko D, Schinner F (2009) Microbial communities and activities in alpine and subalpine soils. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 67: 208–218. DOI: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2008.00620.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Marshall CB, McLaren JR, Turkington R (2011) Soil microbial communities resistant to changes in plant functional group composition. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 43: 78–85. DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2010.09.016CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Miles J (1985) The pedogenic effects of different species and vegetation types and the implications of succession. Journal of soil science 36: 571–584. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2389.1985.tb00359.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Niklaus PA, Wardle DA, Tate KR (2006) Effects of plant species diversity and composition on nitrogen cycling and the trace gas balance of soils. Plant and soil 282: 83–98. DOI: 10.1007/s11104-005-5230-8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nilsson LO, Giesler R, Bååth E, Wallander H (2005) Growth and biomass of mycorrhizal mycelia in coniferous forests along short natural nutrient gradients. New Phytologist 165: 613–622. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2004.01223.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Økland RH (1999) On the variation explained by ordination and constrained ordination axes. Journal of Vegetation Science: 131–136. DOI: 0.2307/3237168Google Scholar
  32. Olsson PA (1999) Signature fatty acids provide tools for determination of the distribution and interactions of mycorrhizal fungi in soil. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 29: 303–310. DOI: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.1999.tb00621.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Personeni E, Loiseau P (2004) How does the nature of living and dead roots affect the residence time of carbon in the root litter continuum? Plant and soil 267: 129–141. DOI: 10.1007/s11104-005-4656-3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pietikäinen J, Pettersson M, Bååth E (2005) Comparison of temperature effects on soil respiration and bacterial and fungal growth rates. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 52: 49–58. DOI: 10.1016/j.femsec.2004.10.002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. R Core Team (2014) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.Google Scholar
  36. Schimel JP, Bennett J, Fierer N, et al. (2005) Microbial community composition and soil nitrogen cycling: is there really a connection? In: Bardgett RD, et al. (eds.), Biological Diversity and Function in Soils. Cambridge University Press, New York. pp 171–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shen C, Xiong J, Zhang H, et al. (2013) Soil pH drives the spatial distribution of bacterial communities along elevation on Changbai Mountain. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 57: 204–211. DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2012.07.013CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Spehn E, Hector A, Joshi J, et al. (2005) Ecosystem effects of biodiversity manipulations in European grasslands. Ecological monographs 75: 37–63. DOI: 10.1890/03-4101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stephan A, Meyer AH, Schmid B (2000) Plant diversity affects culturable soil bacteria in experimental grassland communities. Journal of Ecology 88: 988–998. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2745.2000.00510.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Van Der Heijden MG, Bardgett RD, Van Straalen NM (2008) The unseen majority: soil microbes as drivers of plant diversity and productivity in terrestrial ecosystems. Ecology letters 11: 296–310. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2007.01139.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wagener SM, Schimel JP (1998) Stratification of soil ecological processes: a study of the birch forest floor in the Alaskan taiga. Oikos: 63–74. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3546468Google Scholar
  42. Wardle D (1992) A comparative assessment of factors which influence microbial biomass carbon and nitrogen levels in soil. Biological reviews 67: 321–358. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-185X.1992.tb00728.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wardle DA (2002) Communities and ecosystems: linking the aboveground and belowground components: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Wardle DA (2005) How plant communities influence decomposer communities. In: Bardgett RD, et al. (eds.), Biological Diversity and Function in Soils. Cambridge University Press, New York. pp 119–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wardle DA, Bonner KI, Barker GM, et al. (1999) Plant removals in perennial grassland: vegetation dynamics, decomposers, soil biodiversity, and ecosystem properties. Ecological monographs 69: 535–568. DOI: 10.1890/0012-9615(1999)069 [0535:PRIPGV]2.0.CO;2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wardle DA, Yeates GW, Williamson W, Bonner KI (2003) The response of a three trophic level soil food web to the identity and diversity of plant species and functional groups. Oikos 102: 45–56. DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-0706.2003.12481.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Williamson WM, Wardle DA, Yeates GW (2005) Changes in soil microbial and nematode communities during ecosystem decline across a long-term chronosequence. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 37: 1289–1301. DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2004.11.025CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Xu M, Li X, Cai X, et al. (2014) Soil microbial community structure and activity along a montane elevational gradient on the Tibetan Plateau. European Journal of Soil Biology 64: 6–14. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejsobi.2014.06.002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Yang Y, Wu L, Lin Q, et al. (2013) Responses of the functional structure of soil microbial community to livestock grazing in the Tibetan alpine grassland. Global change biology 19: 637–648. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12065CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zhang Y, Lu Z, Liu S, et al. (2013) Geochip-based analysis of microbial communities in alpine meadow soils in the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau. BMC microbiology 13: 72. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2180-13-72CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hai-jun Cui
    • 1
  • Gen-xu Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yan Yang
    • 1
  • Yang Yang
    • 1
  • Rui-ying Chang
    • 1
  • Fei Ran
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina

Personalised recommendations