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Title: Changes in microbial community structure following herbicide (glyphosate) additions to forest soils

Author: Ratcliff, Alice W.; Busse, Matt D.; Shestak, Carol J.;

Date: 2006

Source: Applied Soil Ecology. 34(2-3): 114-124

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)


Glyphosate applied at the recommended field rate to a clay loam and a sandy loam forest soil resulted in few changes in microbial community structure. Total and culturable bacteria, fungal hyphal length, bacterial:fungal biomass, carbon utilization profiles (BIOLOG), and bacterial and fungal phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA) were unaffected 1, 3, 7, or 30 days after application of a commercial formulation (Roundup®). In contrast, a high concentration of glyphosate (100× field rate) simulating an undiluted chemical spill substantially altered the bacterial community in both soils. Increases in total bacteria, culturable bacteria, and bacterial:fungal biomass were rapid following application. Culturable bacteria increased from about 1% of the total population in untreated soil to as much as 25% at the high concentration by day 7, indicating enrichment of generalist bacteria. Community composition in both soils shifted from fungal dominance to an equal ratio of bacteria to fungi. Functional diversity of culturable bacteria, estimated by C substrate utilization, also increased at the high glyphosate concentration, particularly in the clay loam soil. Unlike the other bacterial indices, only minor changes in bacterial PLFA resulted after the third day following the 100× field rate application. Apparently the herbicide resulted in an across-the-board stimulation of bacteria that was not reflected by the finer-scale PLFA community structure. Changes in fungal properties (hyphae, propagules, PLFA biomarkers) were few and transient. We conclude that the commercial formulation of glyphosate has a benign affect on community structure when applied at the recommended field rate, and produces a non-specific, short-term stimulation of bacteria at a high concentration.

Keywords: Soil bacteria, Soil fungi, Phospholipid fatty acid, Carbon utilization, BIOLOG

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Ratcliff, Alice W.; Busse, Matt D.; Shestak, Carol J. 2006. Changes in microbial community structure following herbicide (glyphosate) additions to forest soils. Applied Soil Ecology. 34(2-3): 114-124.


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