Tree species traits and mycorrhizal association shape soil microbial communities via litter quality and species mediated soil properties

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Soils harbor a vast diversity of soil microbiota, which play a crucial role in key ecosystem processes such as litter transformation and mineralization, but how complex plant-soil interactions shape the diversity and composition of soil microbiota remains elusive. We performed amplicon sequencing of DNA isolated from mineral topsoil of six common European trees planted in multi-site common garden monoculture stands of broadleaved maple and ash associated with arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM), broadleaved beech, lime and oak associated with ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM) and coniferous spruce associated with ECM. The main aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of tree species identity, traits and mycorrhizal associations on diversity, community structure, cohesion, and shift in the relative abundance of taxonomic and functional groups of soil bacteria, fungi and nematodes. Our results revealed that soils beneath broadleaved trees hosted higher OTU richness of bacteria, fungi, and nematodes than under Norway spruce. Broadleaved tree species associated with AM fungi showed higher cohesion of bacterial and fungal communities than broadleaved trees associated with ECM fungi, but the cohesion of nematode communities was higher under trees associated with ECM fungi than under trees associated with AM fungi. Copiotrophic bacteria, fungal saprotrophs and bacterivorous nematodes were associated with ash, maple and lime having high soil pH, and high litter decomposition indices, while oligotrophic bacteria, ectomycorrhizal fungi and fungivorous nematodes were associated with beech, oak and Norway spruce that had low soil pH and low litter decomposition indices. Tree species associated with AM fungi had a high proportion of copiotrophic bacteria and saprotrophic fungi while trees associated with ECM fungi showed a high relative abundance of oligotrophic bacteria, ECM fungi and fungivorous nematodes. The different abundances of these functional groups support the more inorganic nutrient economy of AM tree species vs the more organic dominated nutrient economy of ECM tree species. The bacterial community was indirectly affected by litter quality via soil properties, while the fungal community was directly affected by litter quality and tree species. The functional groups of nematodes mirrored the communities of bacteria and fungi, thereby indicating the main and active groups of the tree species-specific microbial communities. Our study suggested that tree species identity, traits, and mycorrhizal association substantially shape microbial communities via a direct effect of litter chemistry as well as via litter-mediated soil properties.
Original languageEnglish
Article number120608
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Volume527
Number of pages16
ISSN0378-1127
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 323981115