The increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels is predicted to stimulate plant carbon (C) fixation, potentially influencing the size, structure and function of micro- and mesofaunal communities inhabiting the rhizosphere. To assess the effects of increased atmospheric CO2 on bacterial, fungal and nematode communities in the rhizosphere, Carex arenaria (a nonmycorrhizal plant species) and Festuca rubra (a mycorrhizal plant species) were grown in three dune soils under controlled soil temperature and moisture conditions, while subjecting the aboveground compartment to defined atmospheric conditions differing in CO2 concentrations (350 and 700 μL L1). Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis methods were used to examine effects on the size and structure of rhizosphere communities. Multivariate analysis of community profiles showed that bacteria were most affected by elevated CO2, and fungi and nematodes to a lesser extent. The influence of elevated CO2 was plant dependent, with the mycorrhizal plant (F. rubra) exerting a greater influence on bacterial and fungal communities. Biomarker data indicated that arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) may play an important role in the observed soil community responses. Effects of elevated CO2 were also soil dependent, with greater influence observed in the more organic-rich soils, which also supported higher levels of AMF colonization. These results indicate that responses of soil-borne communities to elevated CO2 are different for bacteria, fungi and nematodes and dependent on the plant type and soil nutrient availability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Journal publication date2007

ID: 322024