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Journal Article

Selective transport of plant root-associated bacterial populations in agricultural soils upon snowmelt


Schmalwasser,  Andreas
IMPRS International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Dibbern, D., Schmalwasser, A., Lueders, T., & Totsche, K. U. (2014). Selective transport of plant root-associated bacterial populations in agricultural soils upon snowmelt. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 69, 187-196. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.10.040.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0018-0D07-E
Plants introduce abundant carbon into soils, where it is mineralised and sequestered. Proportions of this
fresh organic carbon introduced to top soils can be relocated to deeper soil layers and even to
groundwater by event-driven transport upon heavy rainfalls or after snowmelt. It is assumed that a
significant fraction of this flux involves biocolloids and possibly microbial biomass itself. However, the
nature of such transported microbes, their origin and the mechanisms of their mobilisation are still
poorly understood. Here, we provide primary evidence that specific microbial populations are exported
from top soils upon seepage events. At an experimental maize field, we have analysed the composition of
mobilised bacterial communities collected in seepage water directly after snowmelt in winter at different
depths (35 and 65 cm), and compared them to the corresponding bulk soil microbiota. Using T-RFLP
fingerprinting and pyrotag sequencing, we reveal that mostly members of the Betaproteobacteria
(Methylophilaceae, Oxalobacteraceae, Comamonadaceae), the Alphaproteobacteria (Sphingomonadaceae,
Bradyrhizobiaceae), the Gammaproteobacteria (Legionellaceae) and the Bacteroidetes (Sphingobacteriaceae)
were mobilised, all characteristic taxa for the rhizoplane. This highlights the importance of preferential
flow along root channels for the vertical mobilisation and transport of microbes. Although the estimated
quantitative fluxes of bacterial biomass carbon appeared low, our study allows for an improved understanding
of the links between top soil, subsoil, and groundwater microbiota, as well as carbon fluxes between soil compartments.