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Research article2011Peer reviewedOpen access

Relationship between bacterial diversity and function under biotic control: the soil pesticide degraders as a case study : Bacterial diversity and function relationship

Monard Cécile, Vandenkoornhuyse Philippe, Le Bot Barbara, Binet Francoise


In soil, the way biotic parameters impact the relationship between bacterial diversity and function is still unknown. To understand these interactions better, we used RNA-based stable-isotope probing to study the diversity of active atrazine-degrading bacteria in relation to atrazine degradation and to explore the impact of earthworm-soil engineering with respect to this relationship. Bulk soil, burrow linings and earthworm casts were incubated with 13C-atrazine. The pollutant degradation was quantified by liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry for 8 days, whereas active atrazine degraders were identified at 2 and 8 days by sequencing the 16S ribosomal RNA in the 13C-RNA fractions from the three soil microsites. An original diversity of atrazine degraders was found. Earthworm soil engineering greatly modified the taxonomic composition of atrazine degraders with dominance of α-, β- and γ-proteobacteria in burrow linings and of Actinobacteria in casts. Earthworm soil bioturbation increased the γ-diversity of atrazine degraders over the soil microsites generated. Atrazine degradation was enhanced in burrow linings in which primary atrazine degraders, closely related to Pelomonas aquatica, were detected only 2 days after atrazine addition. Atrazine degradation efficiency was not linearly related to the species richness of degraders but likely relied on keystone species. By enhancing soil heterogeneity, earthworms sustained high phylogenetic bacterial diversity and exerted a biotic control on the bacterial diversity–function relationships. Our findings call for future investigations to assess the ecological significance of biotic controls on the relationships between diversity and function on ecosystem properties and services (for example, soil detoxification) at larger scales


active degraders; atrazine biodegradation; soil biotic interactions; earthworm; ecosystem services; RNA stable-isotope probing

Published in

ISME Journal
2011, Volume: 5, number: 6, pages: 1048-1056

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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