Rapid recovery of soil bacterial communities after wildfire in a Chinese boreal forest

Xingjia Xiang, Yu Shi, Jian Yang, Jianjian Kong, Xiangui Lin, Huayong Zhang, Jun Zeng, Haiyan Chu

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118 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fires affect hundreds of millions of hectares annually. Above-ground community composition and diversity after fire have been studied extensively, but effects of fire on soil bacterial communities remain largely unexamined despite the central role of bacteria in ecosystem recovery and functioning. We investigated responses of bacterial community to forest fire in the Greater Khingan Mountains, China, using tagged pyrosequencing. Fire altered soil bacterial community composition substantially and high-intensity fire significantly decreased bacterial diversity 1-year-after-burn site. Bacterial community composition and diversity returned to similar levels as observed in controls (no fire) after 11 years. The understory vegetation community typically takes 20-100 years to reach pre-fire states in boreal forest, so our results suggest that soil bacteria could recover much faster than plant communities. Finally, soil bacterial community composition significantly co-varied with soil pH, moisture content, NH4+ content and carbon/nitrogen ratio (P < 0.05 in all cases) in wildfire-perturbed soils, suggesting that fire could indirectly affect bacterial communities by altering soil edaphic properties.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3829
JournalScientific Reports
Volume4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2014

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