Although plants introduced for site restoration are pre-selected for specific traits (e.g. trace element bioaccumulation, rapid growth in poor soils), the in situ success of these plants likely depends on the recruitment of appropriate rhizosphere microorganisms from their new environment. We introduced three willow (Salix spp.) cultivars to a contaminated landfill, and performed soil chemical analyses, plant measurements, and Ion Torrent sequencing of rhizospheric fungal and bacterial communities at 4 and 16 months post-planting. The abundance of certain dominant fungi was linked to willow accumulation of Zn, the most abundant trace element at the site. Interestingly, total Zn accumulation was better explained by fungal community structure 4 months post-planting than 16 months post-planting, suggesting that initial microbial recruitment may be critical. In addition, when the putative ectomycorrhizal fungi Sphaerosporella brunnea and Inocybe sp. dominated the rhizosphere 4 months post-planting, Zn accumulation efficiency was negatively correlated with fungal diversity. Although field studies such as this rely on correlation, these results suggest that the soil microbiome may have the greatest impact on plant function during the early stages of growth, and that plant-fungus specificity may be essential.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics