Soil microbial community function and structure in a post-mining chronosequence
Jansen van Rensburg, P.J.
Van Rensburg, L.
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Temporal changes in microbial community function (enzymatic activities) and structure (phospholipid fatty acids) were studied in a post-mining chronosequence of coal discard sites of different rehabilitation ages. The objective was to determine whether temporal changes in microbial community function and structure were related to rehabilitation age or management practices. No trends consistent with the rehabilitation ages (1 to 11 years) of the respective sites were observed. A canonical correspondence analysis showed that sites clustered according to the time of sampling irrespective of their individual rehabilitation ages. Sites sampled in 2002 clustered together, while sites sampled in 2004 and 2005 clustered separately from the 2002 sites. This corresponded with a change in management practices applied after 2002. Dehydrogenase, β-glucosidase, acid phosphatase, and alkaline phosphatase activities for all sites were higher after 2002. Urease activities were lower after 2002, with the exception of Site 3 (4 years old in 2002). Phospholipid fatty acid data showed significant (p < 0.05) differences between sites of different rehabilitation ages over the study period. There was a decrease in microbial biomass in all sites from 2002 to 2004 but an increase in 2005. Fungal to bacterial abundance ratios for all sites decreased over the study period. The proportion of the total microbial community comprised of Gram positive bacteria increased from 2002 to 2005. These data show the value of microbial community function and structure to elucidate management effects that may not be apparent through traditional assessments of rehabilitation status such as aboveground indicators