Aphid effects on rhizosphere microorganisms and microfauna depend more on barley growth phase than on soil fertilization

Mette Vestergård, Lisa Bjørnlund, Søren Christensen
Oecologia 2004, 141 (1): 84-93
This paper gives the first reports on aphid effects on rhizosphere organisms as influenced by soil nutrient status and plant development. Barley plants grown in pots fertilized with N but without P (N), with N and P (NP), or not fertilized (0) were sampled in the early growth phase (day 25), 1 week before and 1 week after spike emergence. Aphids were added 16 days before sampling was carried out. In a separate experiment belowground respiration was measured on N and NP fertilized plant-soil systems with aphid treatments comparable to the first experiment. Aphids reduced numbers of rhizosphere bacteria and fungal feeding nematodes 1 week before spike emergence. Before spike emergence, aphids reduced belowground respiration in NP treatments. These findings strongly indicate that aphids reduced allocation of photoassimilates to roots and deposition of root exudates in the growth phase of the plant. Contrary to this, 1 week after spike emergence numbers of bacteria, fungal feeding nematodes and Protozoa were higher in rhizospheres of plants subjected to aphids probably because aphids enhanced root mortality and root decomposition. Protozoa and bacterial feeding nematodes were stimulated at different experimental conditions with nematodes being the dominant bacterial grazers at N fertilization and Protozoa in the NP treatment before spike emergence.

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