Effects of Pinus sylvestris root growth and mycorrhizosphere development on bacterial carbon source utilization and hydrocarbon oxidation in forest and petroleum-contaminated soils

J Heinonsalo, K S Jørgensen, K Haahtela, R Sen
Canadian Journal of Microbiology 2000, 46 (5): 451-64
The hypothesis that Pinus sylvestris L. root and mycorrhizosphere development positively influences bacterial community-linked carbon source utilization, and drives a concomitant reduction in mineral oil levels in a petroleum hydrocarbon- (PHC-) contaminated soil was confirmed in a forest ecosystem-based phytoremediation simulation. Seedlings were grown for 9 months in large petri dish microcosms containing either forest humus or humus amended with cores of PHC-contaminated soil. Except for increased root biomass in the humus/PHC treatment, there were no other significant treatment-related differences in plant growth and needle C and N status. Total cell and culturable bacterial (CFU) densities significantly increased in both rhizospheres and mycorrhizospheres that actively developed in the humus and PHC-contaminated soil. Mycorrhizospheres (mycorrhizas and extramatrical mycelium) supported the highest numbers of bacteria. Multivariate analyses of bacterial community carbon source utilization profiles (Biolog GN microplate) from different rhizosphere, mycorrhizosphere, and bulk soil compartments, involving principal component and correspondence analysis, highlighted three main niche-related groupings. The respective clusters identified contained bacterial communities from (i) unplanted bulk soils, (ii) planted bulk PHC and rhizospheres in PHC-contaminated soils, and (iii) planted bulk humus and rhizosphere/mycorrhizosphere-influenced humus, and mycorrhizosphere-influenced PHC contaminated soil. Correspondence analysis allowed further identification of amino acid preferences and increased carboxylic/organic acid preferences in rhizosphere and mycorrhizosphere compartments. Decreased levels of mineral oil (non-polar hydrocarbons) were detected in the PHC-contaminated soil colonized by pine roots and mycorrhizal fungi. These data further support our view that mycorrhizosphere development and function plays a central role in controlling associated bacterial communities and their degradative activities in lignin-rich forest humus and PHC-contaminated soils.

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