The relationship between community structure and growth and pH tolerance of a soil bacterial community was studied after liming in a reciprocal inoculum study. An unlimed (UL) humus soil with a pH of 4.0 was fumigated with chloroform for 4 h, after which < 1 % of the initial bacterial activity remained. Half of the fumigated soil was experimentally limed (EL) to a pH of 7.6. Both the UL and the EL soil were then reciprocally inoculated with UL soil or field limed (FL) soil with a pH of 6.2. The FL soil was from a 15-year-old experiment. The structural changes were measured on both bacteria in soil and on bacteria able to grow on agar plates using phospholipids fatty acid (PLFA) and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis. The developing community pH tolerance and bacterial growth were also monitored over time using thymidine incorporation. The inoculum source had a significant impact on both growth and pH tolerance of the bacterial community in the EL soil. These differences between the EL soil inoculated with UL soil and FL soil were correlated to structural changes, as evidenced by both PLFA and DGGE analyses on the soil. Similar correlations were seen to the fraction of the community growing on agar plates. There were, however, no differences between the soil bacterial communities in the unlimed soils with different inocula. This study showed the connection between the development of function (growth), community properties (pH tolerance) and the structure of the bacterial community. It also highlighted the importance of both the initial properties of the community and the selection pressure after environmental changes in shaping the resulting microbial community.
Effect of environmental factors on fungal and bacterial growth in soil