Microbial Diversity on Leaves of Quercus Prinus during Different Stages of Breakdown

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Leaf breakdown in headwater streams includes various extrinsic factors. Of these, microbes are mainly responsible for metabolizing leaf nutrients and proliferating leaf palatability for invertebrate consumers. We examined the differences in microbial communities on decomposing Quercus prinus leaves in two laboratory mesocosm experiments. Mesocosms were set under different temperatures and with different shredder taxa for a total duration of 49 days. One experiment was run at 15°C in the presence or absence of a common temperate-zone shredder (Tallaperla maria) and the other at 20°C in the presence or absence of a common tropical-zone shredder (Phylloicus pulcris). Bacterial and fungal DNA was extracted from leaf substrates and identified via Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (T-RFLPs). Microbial diversity was assessed by estimating differences in richness, evenness, and Shannon’s diversity. We hypothesized that throughout leaf breakdown, microbial diversity would change. However, preliminary results suggest that microbial diversity on Quercus prinus leaves does not differ significantly throughout different stages of breakdown. Understanding how microbial diversity changes over time in decomposing litter can help elucidate the overall role of detritivores on organic matter breakdown.


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