Plant community effects on the diversity and pathogen suppressive activity of soil streptomycetes

Matthew G. Bakker, Jerry D. Glover, John G. Mai, Linda L. Kinkel

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45 Scopus citations


Ecological factors that promote pathogen suppressive microbial communities remain poorly understood. However, plants have profound impacts on the structure and functional activities of soil microbial communities, and land-use changes which alter plant diversity or community composition may indirectly affect the structure and function of microbial communities. Previous research has suggested that the streptomycetes are significant contributors to pathogen suppression in soils. We compared soil streptomycete communities from high and low plant diversity treatments using an experimental manipulation that altered plant diversity while controlling for soil structure and disturbance. Specifically, we characterized an isolate collection for inhibition of plant pathogens as a measure of functional activity, and for 16S rDNA sequence to measure community structure. In this system, high and low diversity plant communities supported streptomycete communities with similar diversity, phylogenetic composition, and pathogen suppressive activity. However, inhibitory phenotypes differed among treatments for several phylogenetic groups, indicating that local selection is leading to divergence between streptomycetes from high and low plant diversity communities. Although the ability to inhibit plant pathogens was common among soil streptomycetes, pathogen-inhibitory activity differed widely among phylogenetic groups. The breadth and intensity of pathogen inhibition by soil streptomycetes were positively related.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M. Bakker gratefully acknowledges research support provided by the Land Institute (Salina, KS) and the National Science Foundation (Graduate Research Fellowship). Laura McCarville provided laboratory assistance. We thank J. Duggan for the use of his land for the prairie conversion to no-till annual monoculture experiment. Additional project support has been provided by NCR-SARE (LNC06-273) and by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, through the Microbial Observatories program (2006-04464).


  • Diversity
  • Land-use change
  • Pathogen suppression
  • Prairie
  • Streptomycete


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