Soil Bacteria And Fungi Respond On Different Spatial Scales To Invasion By The Legume Lespedeza Cuneata
ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER CHAMPAIGN IL CONSTRUCTION ENGINEERING RESEARCH LAB
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The spatial scale on which microbial communities respond to plant invasions may provide important clues as to the nature of potential invader microbe interactions. Lespedeza cuneata Dum. Cours. G. Don is an invasive legume that may benefit from associations with mycorrhizal fungi however, it has also been suggested that the plant is allelopathic and may alter the soil chemistry of invaded sites through secondary metabolites in its root exudates or litter. Thus, L. cuneata invasion may interact with soil microorganisms on a variety of scales. We investigated L. cuneata-related changes to soil bacterial and fungal communities at two spatial scales using multiple sites from across its invaded N. American range. Using whole-community DNA fingerprinting,we characterized microbial community variation at the scale of entire invaded sites and at the scale of individual plants. Based on permutational multivariate analysis of variance, soil bacterial communities in heavily invaded sites were significantly different from those of uninvaded sites, but bacteria did not show any evidence of responding at very local scales around individual plants. In contrast, soil fungi did not change significantly at the scale of entire sites, but there were significant differences between fungal communities of native versus exotic plants within particular sites. The differential scaling of bacterial and fungal responses indicates that L. cuneata interacts differently with soil bacteria and soil fungi, and these microorganisms may play very different roles in the invasion process of this plant.