Woody plant encroachment, and its removal, impact bacterial and fungal communities across stream and terrestrial habitats in a tallgrass prairie ecosystem.

FEMS microbiology ecology

PubMedID: 26347079

Veach AM, Dodds WK, Jumpponen A. Woody plant encroachment, and its removal, impact bacterial and fungal communities across stream and terrestrial habitats in a tallgrass prairie ecosystem. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2015;.
Woody plant encroachment has become a global threat to grasslands and has caused declines in aboveground richness and changes in ecosystem function; yet we have a limited understanding on the effects of these phenomena on belowground microbial communities. We completed riparian woody plant removals at Konza Prairie Biological Station, Kansas and collected soils spanning land-water interfaces in removal and woody vegetation impacted areas. We measured stream sediments and soils for edaphic variables (C and N pools, soil water content, pH) and bacterial (16S rRNA genes) and fungal (ITS2 rRNA gene repeat) communities using Illumina MiSeq metabarcoding. Bacterial richness and diversity decreased with distance from streams. Fungal richness decreased with distance from the stream in wooded areas, but was similar across landscape position while Planctomycetes and Basidiomycota relative abundance was lower in removal areas. Cyanobacteria, Ascomycota, Chytridiomycota and Glomeromycota relative abundance was greater in removal areas. Ordination analyses indicated that bacterial community composition shifted more across land-water interfaces than fungi yet both were marginally influenced by treatment. This study highlights the impacts of woody encroachment restoration on grassland bacterial and fungal communities which likely subsequently affects belowground processes and plant health in this ecosystem.