Fungal inhibition by Bromelia pinguin (Bromeliaceae) and its effect on nutrient cycle dynamics

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Few studies have been done on the ecology of Bromelia pinguin (Bromeliaceae), a bromeliad with unique characteristics found throughout Central America and the Caribbean. In particular, the fruit pulp has antifungal properties against many fungal strains. We looked at the differences in belowground nutrient processes and the microbial community within bromeliad soil and in adjacent ecotonal and primary forest soils. PCR-based analysis of universal fungal 18S rRNA and universal bacterial 16S rRNA were used as indicators of inhibition, while analysis of basidiomycete internal transcribed space (ITS) was used to see if inhibition was preferential towards basidiomycota. Rhizobial 16S rRNA PCR-based abundance methods were used to determine if the plant affected nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The data suggest that this bromeliad does inhibit fungi and Basidiomycetes within the soil. Moreover, the increased soil dissolved organic carbon and decreased microbial biomass, and the lack of fungal and basidiomycete DNA, in the bromeliad soils suggests a reduced biomass of fungi and basidiomycetes in these soils may decrease the capacity to breakdown the more complex forms of organic carbon. There was decreased abundance and diversity, but greater dominance (i.e., decreased evenness) of Rhizobium 16S rRNA in the bromeliad soil. This, along with the similar amount of ammonium in all soils, and the greater amount of nitrate in the bromeliad soils, suggests that the properties of bromeliad soil select for fewer, more dominant rhizobial species, and that there may be more ammonium oxidizing activity occurring in these soils. © International Society for Tropical Ecology.

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Tropical Ecology

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