Microbial community dynamics in the rhizosphere of a cadmium hyper-accumulator Academic Article uri icon


  • Phytoextraction is influenced by the indigenous soil microbial communities during the remediation of heavy metal contaminated soils. Soil microbial communities can affect plant growth, metal availability and the performance of phytoextraction-assisting inocula. Understanding the basic ecology of indigenous soil communities associated with the phytoextraction process, including the interplay between selective pressures upon the communities, is an important step towards phytoextraction optimization. This study investigated the impact of cadmium (Cd), and the presence of a Cd-accumulating plant, Carpobrotus rossii (Haw.) Schwantes, on the structure of soil-bacterial and fungal communities using automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (ARISA) and quantitative PCR (qPCR). Whilst Cd had no detectable influence upon fungal communities, bacterial communities underwent significant structural changes with no reduction in 16S rRNA copy number. The presence of C. rossii influenced the structure of all communities and increased ITS copy number. Suites of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) changed in abundance in response to either Cd or C. rossii, however we found little evidence to suggest that the two selective pressures were acting synergistically. The Cd-induced turnover in bacterial OTUs suggests that Cd alters competition dynamics within the community. Further work to understand how competition is altered could provide a deeper understanding of the microbiome-plant-environment and aid phytoextraction optimization.

publication date

  • 2016