Presentation Title

Bacterial Flux by Net Precipitation from the Phyllosphere to the Forest Floor

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Abstract or Description

Transport pathways of microbes between ecosystem spheres (atmosphere, phyllosphere, and pedosphere) represent major fluxes in nutrient cycles and have the potential to significantly affect microbial ecological processes. We quantified a previously unexamined microbial flux from the phyllosphere to the pedosphere during rainfall and found it to be substantial. Net rainfall bacterial fluxes for throughfall and stemflow were quantified using flow cytometry and a quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) assay for a Quercus virginiana (Mill., southern live oak) forest with heavy epiphyte cover of Tillandsia usneoides (L., Spanish moss) and Pleopeltis polypodiodes (L., resurrection fern) in coastal Georgia (Southeast USA). Total net precipitation flux of bacteria was 15 quadrillion cells year-1 ha-1, which (assuming a bacterial cell mass of 1 pg) is approximately 15 kg of bacterial biomass supply per year. Stemflow generation was low in this stand (rarely exceeded 10 L storm-1) yet still delivered half the annual net precipitation flux due to high bacterial concentration. The role of this previously unquantified bacterial flux in the forest floor has also been under studied, yet it may be significant by contributing functional community members (if living) or labile lysates (if dead).


American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting (AGU)


San Francisco, CA