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Soil bacterial functional diversity is associated with the decline of Eucalyptus gomphocephala

Cai, Y-F, Barber, P.A., Dell, B., O’Brien, P.A., Williams, N., Bowen, B. and Hardy, G.E.St.J. (2010) Soil bacterial functional diversity is associated with the decline of Eucalyptus gomphocephala. Forest Ecology and Management, 260 (6). pp. 1047-1057.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2010.06.029
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Abstract

This study investigates whether tree decline in Eucalyptus gomphocephala (tuart) is associated with the functional diversity of soil bacterial communities. We selected 12 sites with different stages of decline and assessed crown health [Crown density (CD), Foliage transparency (FT), Uncompacted live crown ratio (ULCR), Crown dieback ratio (CDR) and Epicormic index (EI)] and soil bacterial functional diversity based on Biolog EcoPlates™ incubation [Average well colour development (AWCD), Shannon diversity (H'), richness (S) and Shannon evenness (E)]. Crown health indices differed between sites with EI being the most robust indicator of decline in crown health followed by CDR and CD (P<0.05). Soil bacterial indices collected at 0-10 and 20-30. cm soil depth between December (summer, dry season) and May (autumn, start of wet season) differed between sites (P<0.05), and significant relationships between crown health indices, except ULCR, and all soil bacterial indices were observed. Principle component analysis (PCA) showed that a decrease in the utilization of carbohydrates, carboxylic acids, amino acids and amines by the soil bacterial communities correlated to sites with poor crown health, indicating some changes in physiological responses of bacterial groups with declining tree health. Using stepwise regression analyses, in the 0-10. cm soil layer in December, itaconic acid had a 46% contribution to the EI. Carboxylic acids, including itaconic acid, have a strong ability to solubilize soil minerals in calcareous soil, and these possibly increased the availability of soil mineral nutrients in the healthier sites compared to the declining sites, particularly in the dry season. In addition, lack of soil water in the declining sites limited soil bacterial diversity and was positively correlated with EI in the 0-10. cm soil layer in December. In conclusion, soil bacterial functional diversity has a strong relationship with tuart decline and the importance of soil microbes in tuart ecosystem health must be considered in the future.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: Centre for Phytophthora Science and Management
School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Elsevier BV
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/2667
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