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Applied and environmental microbiology

Depth-related changes in community structure of culturable mineral weathering bacteria and in weathering patterns caused by them along two contrasting soil profiles.


PMID 24077700

Abstract

Bacteria play important roles in mineral weathering and soil formation. However, few reports of mineral weathering bacteria inhabiting subsurfaces of soil profiles have been published, raising the question of whether the subsurface weathering bacteria are fundamentally distinct from those in surface communities. To address this question, we isolated and characterized mineral weathering bacteria from two contrasting soil profiles with respect to their role in the weathering pattern evolution, their place in the community structure, and their depth-related changes in these two soil profiles. The effectiveness and pattern of bacterial mineral weathering were different in the two profiles and among the horizons within the respective profiles. The abundance of highly effective mineral weathering bacteria in the Changshu profile was significantly greater in the deepest horizon than in the upper horizons, whereas in the Yanting profile it was significantly greater in the upper horizons than in the deeper horizons. Most of the mineral weathering bacteria from the upper horizons of the Changshu profile and from the deeper horizons of the Yanting profile significantly acidified the culture media in the mineral weathering process. The proportion of siderophore-producing bacteria in the Changshu profile was similar in all horizons except in the Bg2 horizon, whereas the proportion of siderophore-producing bacteria in the Yanting profile was higher in the upper horizons than in the deeper horizons. Both profiles existed in different highly depth-specific culturable mineral weathering community structures. The depth-related changes in culturable weathering communities were primarily attributable to minor bacterial groups rather than to a change in the major population structure.