Background: Soil bacteria are important drivers for nearly all biogeochemical cycles in terrestrial ecosystems and participate in most nutrient transformations in soil. In contrast to the importance of soil bacteria for ecosystem functioning, we understand little how different management types affect the soil bacterial community composition.
Methodology/principal findings: We used pyrosequencing-based analysis of the V2-V3 16S rRNA gene region to identify changes in bacterial diversity and community structure in nine forest and nine grassland soils from the Schwäbische Alb that covered six different management types. The dataset comprised 598,962 sequences that were affiliated to the domain Bacteria. The number of classified sequences per sample ranged from 23,515 to 39,259. Bacterial diversity was more phylum rich in grassland soils than in forest soils. The dominant taxonomic groups across all samples (>1% of all sequences) were Acidobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, and Firmicutes. Significant variations in relative abundances of bacterial phyla and proteobacterial classes, including Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, Verrucomicrobia, Cyanobacteria, Gemmatimonadetes and Alphaproteobacteria, between the land use types forest and grassland were observed. At the genus level, significant differences were also recorded for the dominant genera Phenylobacter, Bacillus, Kribbella, Streptomyces, Agromyces, and Defluviicoccus. In addition, soil bacterial community structure showed significant differences between beech and spruce forest soils. The relative abundances of bacterial groups at different taxonomic levels correlated with soil pH, but little or no relationships to management type and other soil properties were found.
Conclusions/significance: Soil bacterial community composition and diversity of the six analyzed management types showed significant differences between the land use types grassland and forest. Furthermore, bacterial community structure was largely driven by tree species and soil pH.