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Abstract

Shifts of soil microbial community composition along a short-term invasion chronosequence of Spartina alterniflora in a Chinese Estuary.

Abstract

Exotic plant invasion can alter native soil microbial community composition, and further influence the biogeochemical processes. Little information is available about the impacts of the invasion chronosequence of Spartina alterniflora on the dynamics of soil microbial community. Soil microbial community in coastal salt marshes invaded by S. alterniflora and reference wetlands covered by Suaeda salsa were investigated using phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) profiling along a short-term chronosequence (i.e., 2-, 5- and 10-year) of S. alterniflora invasion in the Yellow River Estuary. Results exhibited an increase in soil moisture, soil organic matter (SOM), soil dissolved organic carbon (DOC), total nitrogen (TN) and the total of PLFAs with increasing invasion ages of S. alterniflora in these coastal salt marshes. Comparatively, soil pH and bulk density exhibited a weak decline along the invasion chronosequence. The elevated values of relative abundance of fungi and the ratios of fungi: bacteria (F/B) in all invaded salt marshes were mainly associated with the accumulation of soil available substrate (e.g., SOM, DOC and TN). S. alterniflora invasion also increased the ratios of gram-positive/gram-negative (G+/G-) bacterial PLFAs, with the highest value occurring in the 2-year invaded salt marshes. The bacterial stress indicated by ratios of cy17:0/16:1ω7c and cy19:0/18:1ω7c consistently decreased along the invasion chronosequence. In conclusion, the shifts of soil microbial community composition were tightly associated with soil variables, such as soil pH and soil nutrient supply. Our findings reflect the short-term chronological effects of S. alterniflora invasion on the soil physicochemical characteristics and microbial communities, which contributes to the linkage between the plant invasion and soil development of coastal salt marshes.