Different pioneer plant species select specific rhizosphere bacterial communities in a high mountain environment
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The rhizobacterial communities of 29 pioneer plants belonging to 12 species were investigated in an alpine ecosystem to assess if plants from different species could select for specific rhizobacterial communities. Rhizospheres and unvegetated soils were collected from a floristic pioneer stage plot at 2,400 m a.s.l. in the forefield of Weisskugel Glacier (Matsch Valley, South Tyrol, Italy), after 160 years of glacier retreat. To allow for a culture-independent perspective, total environmental DNA was extracted from both rhizosphere and bare soil samples and analyzed by Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis (ARISA) and Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE). ARISA fingerprinting showed that rhizobacterial genetic structure was extremely different from bare soil bacterial communities while rhizobacterial communities clustered strictly together according to the plant species. Sequencing of DGGE bands showed that rhizobacterial communities were mainly composed of Acidobacteria and Proteobacteria whereas bare soil was colonized by Acidobacteria and Clostridia. UniFrac significance calculated on DGGE results confirmed the rhizosphere effect exerted by the 12 species and showed different bacterial communities (P < 0.05) associated with all the plant species. These results pointed out that specific rhizobacterial communities were selected by pioneer plants of different species in a high mountain ecosystem characterized by oligotrophic and harsh environmental conditions, during an early primary succession.