Horizon-specific bacterial community composition of german grassland soils, as revealed by pyrosequencing-based analysis of 16S rRNA genes

Christiane Will, Andrea Thürmer, Antje Wollherr, Heiko Nacke, Nadine Herold, Marion Schrumpf, Jessica Gutknecht, Tesfaye Wubet, François Buscot, Rolf Daniell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

259 Scopus citations


The diversity of bacteria in soil is enormous, and soil bacterial communities can vary greatly in structure. Here, we employed a pyrosequencing-based analysis of the V2-V3 16S rRNA gene region to characterize the overalland horizon-specific (A and B horizons) bacterial community compositions innine grassland soils, which covered three different land use types. The entire data set comprised 752,838 sequences, 600,544 of which could be classified below the domain level. The average number of sequences per horizon was41,824. The dominant taxonomic groups present in all samples and horizons were the Acidobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria, Chloroflexi, Firmicutes, andBacteroidetes. Despite these overarching dominant taxa, the abundance, diversity, and composition of bacterial communities were horizon specific. In almost all cases, the estimated bacterial diversity (H') was higher in the Ahorizons than in the corresponding B horizons. In addition, the H' was positively correlated with the organic carbon content, the total nitrogen content, and the C-to-N ratio, which decreased with soil depth. It appeared thatlower land use intensity results in higher bacterial diversity. The majority of sequences affiliated with the Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Cyanobacteria, Fibrobacteres, Firmicutes, Spirochaetes, Verrucomicrobia, Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, and Gammaproteobacteria were derived from A horizons, whereas the majority of the sequences related to Acidobacteria, Chloroflexi, Gemmatimonadetes, Nitrospira, TM7, and WS3 originated from B horizons. The distribution of some bacterial phylogenetic groups and subgroupsin the different horizons correlated with soil properties such as organic carbon content, total nitrogen content, or microbial biomass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6751-6759
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 2010


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