Plant Diversity ›› 2018, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (05): 209-216.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2018.09.003

• Articles •     Next Articles

Seasonal comparison of bacterial communities in rhizosphere of alpine cushion plants in the Himalayan Hengduan Mountains

Shuai Changa,b, Jianguo Chena, Jianqiang Suc, Yang Yanga, Hang Suna   

  1. a Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China;
    b University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China;
    c Key Laboratory of Urban Environment and Health, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen 361021, China
  • Received:2018-05-18 Online:2018-10-25 Published:2018-11-07
  • Contact: Jianqiang Su, Yang Yang, Hang Sun
  • Supported by:

    This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2017YFC0505200, to Hang Sun), the Major Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31590823, to Hang Sun), the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDA20050203, to Hang Sun), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDB15020302, to Jianqiang Su) and the Yunnan Applied Basic Research Project (Grant No. 2018FA015, to Yang Yang).


Positive associations between alpine cushion plants and other species have been extensively studied. However, almost all studies have focused on the associations between macrofauna. Studies that have investigated positive associations between alpine cushion plants and rhizospheric microbes have been limited to the vegetation growing season. Here, we asked whether the positive effects that alpine cushion plants confer on rhizospheric microbe communities vary with seasons. We assessed seasonal variations in the bacterial diversity and composition in rhizosphere of two alpine cushion plants and surrounding bare ground by employing a high throughput sequencing method targeting the V3 region of bacterial 16S rRNA genes. Soil properties of the rhizosphere and the bare ground were also examined. We found that cushion rhizospheres harbored significantly more C, N, S, ammonia nitrogen, and soil moisture than the bare ground. Soil properties in cushion rhizospheres were not notably different, except for soil pH. Bacterial diversities within the same microhabitats did not vary significantly with seasons. We concluded that alpine cushion plants had positive effects on the rhizospheric bacterial communities, even though the strength of the effect varied in different cushion species. Cushion species and the soil sulfur content were probably the major factors driving the spatial distribution and structure of soil bacterial communities in the alpine communities dominated by cushion plants.

Key words: Alpine, Cushion plant, Positive effect, Rhizosphere, Bacteria, Soil nutrient