A culture-independent and culture-dependent study of the bacteria community from the bedrock soil interface

Olsson-Francis, Karen; Pearson, Victoria; Boardman, Carl; Schofield, Paul; Oliver, Anna and Summers, Stephen (2015). A culture-independent and culture-dependent study of the bacteria community from the bedrock soil interface. Advances in Microbiology, 5(13) pp. 842–857.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4236/aim.2015.513089


In nutrient limited soils, minerals constitute a major reservoir of bio-essential elements. Consequently, the release of nutritive elements during weathering is crucial. Bacteria have been shown to enhance weathering rates; however, there has been limited work that has focused on the bacterial weathering of bedrock or parent rock, which are the major sources of minerals, in nutrient limiting soils. In this study, both a culture-independent and culture-dependent approach was used to study the bacterial community at the interface between basaltic bedrock and nutrient limiting soil in Cadiar Idris region of Snowdonia National Park, United Kingdom. High throughput sequencing method, Ion Torrent, was used to characterise the bacterial community, which generated over 250,000 sequences. Taxonomical assignment demonstrated that approximately 50% (125,000 sequences) of the community consisted of the orders Actinomycetales, Burkholderiales, Clostridales, Bacillales, Rhizobiales and Acidobacterium, with unclassified sequences representing 44% ± 1.46% (110,000 ± 3650). Bacteria belonging to the genera Serratia, Pseudomonas, Bacillus, Paenibacillus, Chromobacterium, Janthinobacterium, Burkholderia and Arthrobacter, were isolated from the sample site. All of the isolates were able to grow in a minimal growth medium, which contained glucose, ammonium chloride with basalt as the sole source of bio-essential elements. Seventy percent of the isolates significantly enhanced basalt dissolution (p < 0.05). The rate of dissolution correlated to the production of oxalic acid and acidification of the growth medium. The findings of this work suggest that at the interface between bedrock and soil heterotrophic members of the bacterial community can enhance weathering, an essential part of biogeochemical cycling in nutrient limiting soil.

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