Habitat heterogeneity induced by pyrogenic organic matter in wildfire-perturbed soils mediates bacterial community assembly processes.
ABSTRACT: Although pyrogenic organic matter (PyOM) generated during wildfires plays a critical role in post-fire ecosystem recovery, the specific mechanisms by which PyOM controls soil microbial community assembly after wildfire perturbation remain largely uncharacterized. Herein we characterized the effect of PyOM on soil bacterial communities at two independent wildfire-perturbed forest sites. We observed that α-diversity of bacterial communities was the highest in wildfire-perturbed soils and that bacterial communities gradually changed along a sequence of unburnt soil → burnt soil → PyOM. The microbial communities reconstructed from unburnt soil and PyOM resembled the real bacterial communities in wildfire-perturbed soils in their α-diversity and community structure. Bacterial specialists in PyOM and soils clustered in phylogenetic coherent lineages with intra-lineage pH-niche conservatism and inter-lineage pH-niche divergence. Our results suggest that PyOM mediates bacterial community assembly in wildfire-perturbed soils by a combination of environmental selection and dispersal of phylogenetic coherent specialists with habitat preference in the heterogeneous microhabitats of burnt soils with distinct PyOM patches.
Project description:Microbes that colonize pyrogenic organic matter (PyOM) (also called biochar) play an important role in PyOM mineralization and crucially affect soil biogeochemical cycling, while the microbial community composition associated with PyOM particles is poorly understood. We generated two manure-based PyOMs with different characteristics (PyOM pyrolyzed at the low temperature of 300°C [i.e., PyOM300] and at the high temperature of 700°C [i.e., PyOM700]) and added them to high-carbon (4.15%) and low-C (0.37%) soil for microbial colonization. 16S rRNA gene sequencing showed that Actinobacteria, particularly Actinomycetales, was the dominant taxon in PyOM, regardless of the PyOM pyrolysis temperature and soil type. Bacterial communities associated with PyOM particles from high-C soils were similar to those in non-PyOM-amended soils. PyOM300 had higher total microbial activity and more differential bacterial communities than PyOM700. More bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs) preferentially thrived on the low-pyrolysis-temperature PyOM, while some specific OTUs thrived on high-pyrolysis-temperature PyOM. In particular, Chloroflexi species tended to be more prevalent in high-pyrolysis-temperature PyOM in low-C soils. In conclusion, the differences in colonized bacterial community composition between the different PyOMs were strongly influenced by the pyrolysis temperatures of PyOM, i.e., under conditions of easily mineralizable C or fused aromatic C, and by other properties, e.g., pH, surface area, and nutrient content. IMPORTANCE Pyrogenic organic matter (PyOM) is widely distributed in soil and fluvial ecosystems and plays an important role in biogeochemical cycling. Many studies have reported changes in soil microbial communities stimulated by PyOM, but very little is known about the microbial communities associated with PyOM. The microbes that colonize PyOMs can participate in the mineralization of PyOM, so changing its structure affects the fate of PyOMs and contributes to soil biogeochemical cycling. This study identified the bacterial community composition associated with PyOMs on the basis of high-throughput sequencing and demonstrated that both PyOM pyrolysis temperature and the colonization environment determined the bacterial community composition. Our work increases our understanding of the dominant phylogenetic taxa associated with PyOMs, demonstrates mechanisms mediating microbial metabolism and growth in PyOMs, and expands a new research area for pyrogenic organic matter. This study identified the bacterial community composition associated with PyOM, which is widely distributed in the environment. Most bacterial OTUs preferentially thrived on PyOM pyrolyzed at low temperature, while some specific OTUs thrived on PyOM pyrolyzed at high temperature.
Project description:Sensitive responses among bacterial and fungal communities to pyrogenic organic matter (PyOM) (biochar) addition in rhizosphere and bulk soils are poorly understood. We conducted a pot experiment with manure and straw PyOMs added to an acidic paddy soil, and identified the sensitive "responders" whose relative abundance was significantly increased/decreased among the whole microbial community following PyOM addition. Results showed that PyOMs significantly (p?<?0.05) increased root growth, and simultaneously changed soil chemical parameters by decreasing soil acidity and increasing biogenic resource. PyOM-induced acidity and biogenic resource co-determined bacterial responder community structure whereas biogenic resource was the dominant parameter structuring fungal responder community. Both number and proportion of responders in rhizosphere soil was larger than in bulk soil, regardless of PyOM types and microbial domains, indicating the microbial community in rhizosphere soil was sensitive to PyOM addition than bulk soil. The significant increased root biomass and length caused by PyOM addition, associated with physiological processes, e.g. C exudates secretion, likely favored more sensitive responders in rhizosphere soil than in bulk soil. Our study identified the responders at fine taxonomic resolution in PyOM amended soils, improved the understanding of their ecological phenomena associated with PyOM addition, and examined their interactions with plant roots.
Project description:Soil organic carbon (SOC) plays an important role in regulating global climate change, carbon and nutrient cycling in soils, and soil moisture. Organic matter (OM) additions to soils can affect the rate at which SOC is mineralized by microbes, with potentially important effects on SOC stocks. Understanding how pyrogenic organic matter (PyOM) affects the cycling of native SOC (nSOC) and the soil microbes responsible for these effects is important for fire-affected ecosystems as well as for biochar-amended systems. We used an incubation trial with five different soils from National Ecological Observatory Network sites across the US and <sup>13</sup>C-labelled 350°C corn stover PyOM and fresh corn stover OM to trace nSOC-derived CO<sub>2</sub> emissions with and without PyOM and OM amendments. We used high-throughput sequencing of rRNA genes to characterize bacterial, archaeal, and fungal communities and their response to PyOM and OM in soils that were previously stored at -80°C. We found that the effects of amendments on nSOC-derived CO<sub>2</sub> reflected the unamended soil C status, where relative increases in C mineralization were greatest in low-C soils. OM additions produced much greater effects on nSOC-CO<sub>2</sub> emissions than PyOM additions. Furthermore, the magnitude of microbial community composition change mirrored the magnitude of increases in nSOC-CO<sub>2</sub>, indicating a specific subset of microbes were likely responsible for the observed changes in nSOC mineralization. However, PyOM responders differed across soils and did not necessarily reflect a common "charosphere". Overall, this study suggests that soils that already have low SOC may be particularly vulnerable to short-term increases in SOC loss with OM or PyOM additions.<b>Importance</b> Soil organic matter (SOM) has an important role in global climate change, carbon and nutrient cycling in soils, and soil moisture dynamics. Understanding the processes that affect SOM stocks is important for managing these functions. Recently, understanding how fire-affected organic matter (or "pyrogenic" organic matter (PyOM)) affects existing SOM stocks has become increasingly important, both due to changing fire regimes, and to interest in "biochar" - pyrogenic organic matter that is produced intentionally for carbon management or as an agricultural soil amendment. We found that soils with less SOM were more prone to increased losses with PyOM (and fresh organic matter) additions, and that soil microbial communities changed more in soils that also had greater SOM losses with PyOM additions. This suggests that soils that already have low SOM content may be particularly vulnerable to short-term increases in SOM loss, and that a subset of the soil microbial community is likely responsible for these effects.
Project description:Pyrogenic organic matter (PyOM) additions to soils can have large impacts on soil organic carbon (SOC) cycling. As the soil microbial community drives SOC fluxes, understanding how PyOM additions affect soil microbes is essential to understanding how PyOM affects SOC. We studied SOC dynamics and surveyed soil bacterial communities after OM additions in a field experiment. We produced and mixed in either 350?°C corn stover PyOM or an equivalent initial amount of dried corn stover to a Typic Fragiudept soil. Stover increased SOC-derived and total CO<sub>2</sub> fluxes (up to 6x), and caused rapid and persistent changes in bacterial community composition over 82 days. In contrast, PyOM only temporarily increased total soil CO<sub>2</sub> fluxes (up to 2x) and caused fewer changes in bacterial community composition. Of the operational taxonomic units (OTUs) that increased in response to PyOM additions, 70% also responded to stover additions. These OTUs likely thrive on easily mineralizable carbon (C) that is found both in stover and, to a lesser extent, in PyOM. In contrast, we also identified unique PyOM responders, which may respond to substrates such as polyaromatic C. In particular, members of Gemmatimonadetes tended to increase in relative abundance in response to PyOM but not to fresh organic matter. We identify taxa to target for future investigations of the mechanistic underpinnings of ecological phenomena associated with PyOM additions to soil.
Project description:Reptiles in urban remnants are threatened with extinction by increased fire frequency, habitat fragmentation caused by urban development, and competition and predation from exotic species. Understanding how urban reptiles respond to and recover from such disturbances is key to their conservation. We monitored the recovery of an urban reptile community for five years following a summer wildfire at Kings Park in Perth, Western Australia, using pitfall trapping at five burnt and five unburnt sites. The reptile community recovered rapidly following the fire. Unburnt sites initially had higher species richness and total abundance, but burnt sites rapidly converged, recording a similar total abundance to unburnt areas within two years, and a similar richness within three years. The leaf-litter inhabiting skink Hemiergis quadrilineata was strongly associated with longer unburnt sites and may be responding to the loss of leaf litter following the fire. Six rarely-captured species were also strongly associated with unburnt areas and were rarely or never recorded at burnt sites, whereas two other rarely-captured species were associated with burnt sites. We also found that one lizard species, Ctenotus fallens, had a smaller average body length in burnt sites compared to unburnt sites for four out of the five years of monitoring. Our study indicates that fire management that homogenises large areas of habitat through frequent burning may threaten some species due to their preference for longer unburnt habitat. Careful management of fire may be needed to maximise habitat suitability within the urban landscape.
Project description:Fires affect hundreds of millions of hectares annually. Above-ground community composition and diversity after fire have been studied extensively, but effects of fire on soil bacterial communities remain largely unexamined despite the central role of bacteria in ecosystem recovery and functioning. We investigated responses of bacterial community to forest fire in the Greater Khingan Mountains, China, using tagged pyrosequencing. Fire altered soil bacterial community composition substantially and high-intensity fire significantly decreased bacterial diversity 1-year-after-burn site. Bacterial community composition and diversity returned to similar levels as observed in controls (no fire) after 11 years. The understory vegetation community typically takes 20-100 years to reach pre-fire states in boreal forest, so our results suggest that soil bacteria could recover much faster than plant communities. Finally, soil bacterial community composition significantly co-varied with soil pH, moisture content, NH4(+) content and carbon/nitrogen ratio (P < 0.05 in all cases) in wildfire-perturbed soils, suggesting that fire could indirectly affect bacterial communities by altering soil edaphic properties.
Project description:Fire is a key process in eucalypt communities, exerting a strong influence on the composition, structure and functioning of forests. Much of the research on the fire response of temperate, wet-sclerophyll trees in Australia comes from Victoria, where the dominant eucalypt is Eucalyptus regnans. In contrast, central and northern Tasmanian forests, dominated by Eucalyptus delegatensis, are relatively understudied. There is a need to determine whether Tasmanian wet-sclerophyll forests, though the same forest type in name, are functionally different in floristics and response to fire. Here we document the forest community response to a natural wildfire event in Tasmania-using opportunistic before/after control/impact (BACI) data from pre-existing monitoring plots. Uniting pre- and post-fire floristic data, we quantified mortality and regeneration of eucalypt, acacia and other dominant tree species, and tree ferns, Dicksonia antarctica, in response to wildfire. We also evaluated the density of eucalypt and acacia seedling establishment between burnt and unburnt forests, and quantified faunal responses to fire. Despite moderate-to-high intensity burning in patches across the plot, mortality of eucalypts, acacias and tree ferns due to fire were low. By contrast, fire-sensitive rainforest species showed low survival, though were able to persist in unburnt refugia. Eucalypt and acacia seedling regeneration was high in the burnt plot, suggesting that E. delegatensis forests regenerate without stand-replacing fire events. This contrasts to Victorian E. regnans forests, whose persistence is dependent on high-severity stand-replacing events. We also found some group-specific avifaunal and invertebrate responses to the fire event, which are broadly reflective of responses documented in other Victorian-based studies. Our results have implications for Tasmanian wet-forest silvicultural practices, which are based on the principle of stand-replacement after fire. The broader relevance of this work to forest ecology is in demonstrating the serendipitous opportunities that can arise with baseline monitoring plots.
Project description:After a forest wildfire, the microbial communities have a transient alteration in their composition. The role of the soil microbial community in the recovery of an ecosystem following such an event remains poorly understood. Thus, it is necessary to understand the plant-microbe interactions that occur in burned soils. By high-throughput sequencing, we identified the main bacterial taxa of burnt holm-oak rhizosphere, then we obtained an isolate collection of the most abundant genus and its growth promoting activities were characterised. 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing showed that the genus Arthrobacter comprised more than 21% of the total community. 55 Arthrobacter strains were isolated and characterized using RAPDs and sequencing of the almost complete 16S rRNA gene. Our results indicate that isolated Arthrobacter strains present a very high genetic diversity, and they could play an important ecological role in interaction with the host plant by enhancing aerial growth. Most of the selected strains exhibited a great ability to degrade organic polymers in vitro as well as possibly presenting a direct mechanism for plant growth promotion. All the above data suggests that Arthrobacter can be considered as an excellent PGP rhizobacterium that may play an important role in the recovery of burned holm-oak forests.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>While fire has been used in some instances to control the increase of woody plants, it has also been reported that fire may cause an increase in certain fire-tolerant Acacia tree species. This study investigated germination of Acacia karroo, A. luederitzii and Dichrostachys cinerea, thought to be increasing in density, as well as the historically successful encroaching woody species, A. nilotica, in savanna grassland, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa. A. karroo is thought to be replacing A. nilotica as the dominant microphyllous species in the park. We tested the hypothesis that observed increases in certain woody plants in a savanna were related to seed germination and seedling establishment. Germination is compared among species for burnt and unburnt seeds on burnt and unburnt plots at three different locations for both hot and cool fires.<h4>Results</h4>Acacia karroo showed higher germination (A. karroo 5.1%, A. nilotica 1.5% and A. luederitzii 5.0%) levels and better establishment (A. karroo 4.9%, A. nilotica 0.4% and A. luederitzii 0.4%). Seeds of the shrub Dichrostachys cinerea did not germinate in the field after fire and it is thought that some other germination cue is needed. On average, burning of A. karroo, A. nilotica and A. luederitzii seeds did not affect germination. There was a significant difference in the germination of burnt seeds on burnt sites (4.5%) and burnt seeds on unburnt plots (2.5%). Similarly, unburnt seeds on unburnt sites germinated better (4.9%) than unburnt seeds on burnt sites (2.8%).<h4>Conclusion</h4>We conclude that a combination of factors may be responsible for the success of A. karroo and that fires may not be hot enough or may occur at the wrong time of year to control A. karroo establishment in HiP. Although germination and establishment of A. karroo was higher than for A. nilotica a competitive advantage after fire could not be shown.
Project description:Wildfires represent a fundamental and profound disturbance in many ecosystems, and their frequency and severity are increasing in many regions of the world. Fire affects soil by removing carbon in the form of CO2 and transforming remaining surface carbon into pyrolyzed organic matter (PyOM). Fires also generate substantial necromass at depths where the heat kills soil organisms but does not catalyze the formation of PyOM. Pyronema species strongly dominate soil fungal communities within weeks to months after fire. However, the carbon pool (i.e., necromass or PyOM) that fuels their rise in abundance is unknown. We used a Pyronema domesticum isolate from the catastrophic 2013 Rim Fire (CA, United States) to ask whether P. domesticum is capable of metabolizing PyOM. Pyronema domesticum grew readily on agar media where the sole carbon source was PyOM (specifically, pine wood PyOM produced at 750°C). Using RNAseq, we investigated the response of P. domesticum to PyOM and observed a comprehensive induction of genes involved in the metabolism and mineralization of aromatic compounds, typical of those found in PyOM. Lastly, we used 13C-labeled 750°C PyOM to demonstrate that P. domesticum is capable of mineralizing PyOM to CO2. Collectively, our results indicate a robust potential for P. domesticum to liberate carbon from PyOM in post-fire ecosystems and return it to the bioavailable carbon pool.