The Abundance of Fungi, Bacteria and Denitrification Genes during Insect Outbreaks in Scots Pine Forests
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/15353
Outbreaks of defoliating insects may affect microbial populations in forests and thereby mass balances and ecosystem functioning. Here, we investigated the microbial dynamics in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forests during outbreaks of the nun moth (Lymantria monacha L.) and the pine-tree lappet (Dendrolimus pini L.). We used real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to quantify genes that characterize bacterial and fungal abundance and the denitrification processes (nirK, nirS, nosZ clades I and II) in different forest compartments and we analyzed the C and N content of pine needles, insect feces, larvae, vegetation layers, organic layers, and mineral soil horizons. The infestation of the nun moth increased the bacterial abundance on pine needles, in the vegetation layer, and in the upper organic layer, while fungal populations were increased in the vegetation layer and upper organic layer during both outbreaks. In soil, the abundance of nirK increased after insect defoliation, while the C/N ratios decreased. nosZ clades I and II showed variable responses in different soil layers and to different defoliating insects. Our results illustrate changes in the microbial populations in pine forests that were infested by defoliating insects and changes in the chemical soil properties that foster these populations, indicating a genetic potential for increased soil N2O emissions during the defoliation peak of insect outbreak events.