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Effects of slope exposure on soil physico-chemical and microbiological properties along an altitudinal climosequence in the Italian Alps


Bardelli, Tommaso; Gómez-Brandón, María; Ascher-Jenull, Judith; Fornasier, Flavio; Arfaioli, Paola; Francioli, Davide; Egli, Markus; Sartori, Giacomo; Insam, Heribert; Pietramellara, Giacomo (2017). Effects of slope exposure on soil physico-chemical and microbiological properties along an altitudinal climosequence in the Italian Alps. Science of the Total Environment, 575:1041-1055.

Abstract

Due to their sensitivity to changing environmental conditions sub- and alpine soils are often monitored in the context of climate change, usually, however, neglecting slope exposure. Therefore, we set up a climosequence-approach to study the effect of exposure and, in general, climate, on the microbial biomass and microbial diversity and activity, comprising five pairs of north (N)- and south (S)-facing sites along an altitudinal gradient ranging from 1200 to 2400 m a.s.l. in the Italian Alps (Trentino Alto Adige, Italy). Soil physico-chemical properties were related to microbiological properties (microbial biomass: double strand DNA yield vs. substrate-induced respiration; diversity of bacterial, fungal and archaeal communities: genetic fingerprinting DGGE vs. real-time PCR; microbial activity: basal respiration vs. multiple hydrolytic enzyme assays) to monitor shifts in the diversity and activity of microbial communities as a function of slope exposure and to evaluate the most determinant chemical parameters shaping the soil microbiota. The exposure-effect on several hydrolytic key-enzymes was enzyme-specific: e.g. acid phosphomonoesterase potential activity was more pronounced at the N-facing slope while the activities of alkaline phosphomonoesterase, pyrophosphate-phosphodiesterase and arylsulfatase were higher at the S-facing slope. Furthermore, this exposure-effect was domain-specific: bacteria (S > N, altitude-independent); fungi (N ~ S); and archaea (N > S; altitude-dependent). Additionally, the abiotic parameters shaping the community composition were in general depending on soil depth. Our multidisciplinary approach allowed us to survey the exposure and altitudinal effects on soil physico-chemical and microbiological properties and thus unravel the complex multiple edaphic factor-effects on soil microbiota in mountain ecosystems.

Abstract

Due to their sensitivity to changing environmental conditions sub- and alpine soils are often monitored in the context of climate change, usually, however, neglecting slope exposure. Therefore, we set up a climosequence-approach to study the effect of exposure and, in general, climate, on the microbial biomass and microbial diversity and activity, comprising five pairs of north (N)- and south (S)-facing sites along an altitudinal gradient ranging from 1200 to 2400 m a.s.l. in the Italian Alps (Trentino Alto Adige, Italy). Soil physico-chemical properties were related to microbiological properties (microbial biomass: double strand DNA yield vs. substrate-induced respiration; diversity of bacterial, fungal and archaeal communities: genetic fingerprinting DGGE vs. real-time PCR; microbial activity: basal respiration vs. multiple hydrolytic enzyme assays) to monitor shifts in the diversity and activity of microbial communities as a function of slope exposure and to evaluate the most determinant chemical parameters shaping the soil microbiota. The exposure-effect on several hydrolytic key-enzymes was enzyme-specific: e.g. acid phosphomonoesterase potential activity was more pronounced at the N-facing slope while the activities of alkaline phosphomonoesterase, pyrophosphate-phosphodiesterase and arylsulfatase were higher at the S-facing slope. Furthermore, this exposure-effect was domain-specific: bacteria (S > N, altitude-independent); fungi (N ~ S); and archaea (N > S; altitude-dependent). Additionally, the abiotic parameters shaping the community composition were in general depending on soil depth. Our multidisciplinary approach allowed us to survey the exposure and altitudinal effects on soil physico-chemical and microbiological properties and thus unravel the complex multiple edaphic factor-effects on soil microbiota in mountain ecosystems.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:06 Feb 2017 09:37
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 23:09
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0048-9697
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.09.176

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