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Litter quality drives the differentiation of microbial communities in the litter horizon across an alpine treeline ecotone in the eastern Tibetan Plateau.


ABSTRACT: Cellulose and lignin are the main polymeric components of the forest litter horizon. We monitored microbial community composition using phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis and investigated the ligninolytic and cellulolytic enzyme activities of the litter horizon across an alpine treeline ecotone in the eastern Tibetan Plateau. The activities of ligninolytic and cellulolytic enzymes and the biomass of microbial PLFAs were higher in the initial stage of litter decomposition than in the latter stage in the three vegetation types (coniferous forest, alpine shrubland and alpine meadow). Soil microbial community structure varied significantly over the course of litter decomposition in the three vegetation types. Furthermore, the BIOENV procedure revealed that the carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio, carbon to phosphorus (C:P) ratio and moisture content (MC) were the most important determinants of microbial community structure in the initial stage of litter decomposition, whereas pH and the lignin concentration were the major factors influencing the microbial community structure in the later stage of litter decomposition. These findings indicate that litter quality drives the differentiation of microbial communities in the litter horizon across an alpine treeline ecotone in the eastern Tibetan Plateau.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6030219 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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