Temporal shifts in endophyte bacterial community composition of sessile oak (Quercus petraea) are linked to foliar nitrogen, stomatal length, and herbivory
Casagrande Bacchiocchi S
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We studied the relationship between plant functional foliar traits and the endophytic bacterial communities associated in trees, taking the example of sessile oak (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl). Forty-five samples with replicates of eight leaves per sample were collected in spring, summer and autumn. Bacterial community diversity was analyzed via Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis (ARISA). The leaf traits specific leaf area, level of herbivory, stomatal number, stomatal length, carbon and nitrogen concentration were measured for the leaves of each sample. For statistical analysis, linear mixed effect models, the Canonical Correlation Analysis (CCA) and NonParametric Multivariate Analysis of Variance (NPMANOVA) were applied. Herbivory, nitrogen and carbon concentration were significantly different in autumn compared to spring and summer (p value < 0.05), while stomatal length was differentiated between spring and the other two seasons (p value < 0.01). The seasonal differentiation of the bacterial community structure was explained by the first and second axes (29.7% and 25.3%, respectively) in the CCA. The bacterial community structure significantly correlated with herbivory, nitrogen concentration and stomatal length. We conclude that herbivory, nitrogen content, and size of stomatal aperture at the leaf level are important for endophyte colonization in oaks growth in alpine forest environments.