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Watrud, L.S., S. Maggard, T. Shiroyama, C.G. Coleman, M.G. Johnson, K. K. Donegan, G. DiGovanini, L.A. Porteous & E.H. Lee. 2003. Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum L.) frond biomass and rhizosphere microbial community characteristics are correlated to edaphic factors. Plant and Soil 249:359-371. NHEERL-COR-2361J

Bracken is a broadly distributed weedy fern common in disturbed habitats. Frond and rhizosphere soil samples were obtained from bracken growing in three clearcut locations in the Willamette National Forest in western Oregon. The highest frond biomass was correlated with soil having the highest total %N, lowest Fe content and oldest geological age. Based on analysis of variance of principal component scores for patterns of utilization of substrates on Biolog GN plates, metabolic profiles of rhizosphere microbial communities of bracken differed significantly between locations. Utilization of carbohydrates and phosphorylated compounds was positively correlated with organic matter (OM) and total N and negatively correlated with extractable Fe and Mn content of soil. Carboxylic acid utilization was positively correlated with pH and OM and negatively correlated with extractable Mn and P content of soils. Pseudomonas rDNA fingerprints of bracken rhizosphere samples suggested that the diversity of pseudomonads at the location with the most acidic (pH 5.5) soil (Burnside Road) differed from those at less acidic (pH 6.2 and 6.1) locations (Falls Creek and Toad Road). Mycorrhizal infection of bracken was lowest at Falls Creek, the location with the highest %N soil content. Our results suggest that bracken frond biomass and rhizosphere microbial community characteristics are correlated with local edaphic factors such as soil chemistry and geological age.

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