Salt marshes are transitional zone between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, occupied mainly by halophytic vegetation which provides numerous ecological services to coastal ecosystem. Halophyte-associated microbial community plays an important role in the adaptation of plants to adverse condition and also affected habitat characteristics. To explore the relationship between halophytes and soil microbial community, we studied the soil enzyme activities, soil microbial community structure, and functional gene abundance in halophytes- (Carex scabrifolia, Phragmites australis, and Suaeda japonica) covered and un-vegetated (mud flat) soils at Suncheon Bay, South Korea. Higher concentrations of total, Gram-positive, Gram-negative, total bacterial, and actinomycetes PLFAs (phospholipid fatty acids) were observed in the soil underneath the halophytes compared with mud flat soil and were highest in Carex soil. Halophyte-covered soils had different microbial community composition due to higher abundance of Gram-negative bacteria than mud flat soil. Similar to PLFA concentrations, the increased activities of β-glucosidase, cellulase, phosphatase, and sulfatase enzymes were observed under halophyte soil compared to mud flat soil and Carex exhibited highest activities. The abundance of archaeal 16S rRNA, fungal ITS, and denitrifying genes (nirK, nirS, and nosZ) were not influenced by the halophytes. Abundance bacterial 16S rRNA and dissimilatory (bi)sulfite (dsrA) genes were highest in Carex-covered soil. The abundance of functional genes involved in methane cycle (mcrA and pmoA) was not affected by the halophytes. However, the ratios of mcrA/pmoA and mcrA/dsrA increased in halophyte-covered soils which indicate higher methanogenesis activities. The finding of the study also suggests that halophytes had increased the microbial and enzyme activities, and played a pivotal role in shaping microbial community structure.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Soil Science