Response of a soil bacterial community to grassland succession as monitored by 16S rRNA levels of the predominant ribotypes

A. Felske, A. Wolterink, R. van Lis, W.M. de Vos, A.D.L. Akkermans

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91 Citations (Scopus)


The composition of predominant soil bacteria during grassland succession was investigated in the Dutch Drentse A area. Five meadows, taken out of agricultural production at different time points, and one currently fertilized plot represented different stages of grassland succession. Since fertilization and agricultural production were stopped, the six plots showed a constant decline in the levels of nutrients and vegetation changes. The activity of the predominant bacteria was monitored by direct ribosome isolation from soil and temperature gradient gel electrophoresis of reverse transcription (RT)-PCR products generated from bacterial 16S rRNA. The amounts of 16S rRNA of 20 predominant ribosome types per gram of soil were monitored via multiple competitive RT-PCR in six plots at different succession stages. These ribosome types mainly represented Bacillus and members of the Acidobacterium cluster and the subclass of the class Proteobacteria. The 20 16S rRNA molecules monitored represented approximately half of all bacterial soil rRNA which was estimated by dot blot hybridizations of soil rRNA with the Bacteria probe EUB338. The grasslands showed highly reproducible and specific shifts of bacterial ribosome type composition. The total bacterial ribosome level increased during the first years after agricultural production and fertilization stopped. This correlated with the collapse of the dominant Lolium perenne population and an increased rate of mineralization of organic matter. The results indicate that there is a true correlation between the total activity of the bacterial community in soil and the amount of bacterial ribosomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3998-4003
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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