Rhizobacterial communities of five co-occurring desert halophytes.PeerJ. 2018; 6:e5508.P
Recently, researches have begun to investigate the microbial communities associated with halophytes. Both rhizobacterial community composition and the environmental drivers of community assembly have been addressed. However, few studies have explored the structure of rhizobacterial communities associated with halophytic plants that are co-occurring in arid, salinized areas.
Five halophytes were selected for study: these co-occurred in saline soils in the Ebinur Lake Nature Reserve, located at the western margin of the Gurbantunggut Desert of Northwestern China. Halophyte-associated bacterial communities were sampled, and the bacterial 16S rDNA V3-V4 region amplified and sequenced using the Illumina Miseq platform. The bacterial community diversity and structure were compared between the rhizosphere and bulk soils, as well as among the rhizosphere samples. The effects of plant species identity and soil properties on the bacterial communities were also analyzed.
Significant differences were observed between the rhizosphere and bulk soil bacterial communities. Diversity was higher in the rhizosphere than in the bulk soils. Abundant taxonomic groups (from phylum to genus) in the rhizosphere were much more diverse than in bulk soils. Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Planctomycetes were the most abundant phyla in the rhizosphere, while Proteobacteria and Firmicutes were common in bulk soils. Overall, the bacterial community composition were not significantly differentiated between the bulk soils of the five plants, but community diversity and structure differed significantly in the rhizosphere. The diversity of Halostachys caspica, Halocnemum strobilaceum and Kalidium foliatum associated bacterial communities was lower than that of Limonium gmelinii and Lycium ruthenicum communities. Furthermore, the composition of the bacterial communities of Halostachys caspica and Halocnemum strobilaceum was very different from those of Limonium gmelinii and Lycium ruthenicum. The diversity and community structure were influenced by soil EC, pH and nutrient content (TOC, SOM, TON and AP); of these, the effects of EC on bacterial community composition were less important than those of soil nutrients.
Halophytic plant species played an important role in shaping associated rhizosphere bacterial communities. When salinity levels were constant, soil nutrients emerged as key factors structuring bacterial communities, while EC played only a minor role. Pairwise differences among the rhizobacterial communities associated with different plant species were not significant, despite some evidence of differentiation. Further studies involving more halophyte species, and individuals per species, are necessary to elucidate plant species identity effects on the rhizosphere for co-occurring halophytes.