An arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus significantly modifies the soil bacterial community and nitrogen cycling during litter decomposition

Erin E Nuccio, Angela Hodge, Jennifer Pett-Ridge, Donald J Herman, Peter K Weber, Mary K Firestone

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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) perform an important ecosystem service by improving plant nutrient capture from soil, yet little is known about how AMF influence soil microbial communities during nutrient uptake. We tested whether an AMF modifies the soil microbial community and nitrogen cycling during litter decomposition. A two-chamber microcosm system was employed to create a root-free soil environment to control AMF access to (13) C- and (15) N-labelled root litter. Using a 16S rRNA gene microarray, we documented that approximately 10% of the bacterial community responded to the AMF, Glomus hoi. Taxa from the Firmicutes responded positively to AMF, while taxa from the Actinobacteria and Comamonadaceae responded negatively to AMF. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that AMF may influence bacterial community assembly processes. Using nanometre-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) we visualized the location of AMF-transported (13) C and (15) N in plant roots. Bulk isotope ratio mass spectrometry revealed that the AMF exported 4.9% of the litter (15) N to the host plant (Plantago lanceolata L.), and litter-derived (15) N was preferentially exported relative to litter-derived (13) C. Our results suggest that the AMF primarily took up N in the inorganic form, and N export is one mechanism by which AMF could modify the soil microbial community and decomposition processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-347
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number1
Early online date10 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2013

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© 2013 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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