Effects of maternal genotypic identity and genetic diversity of the red mangrove Rhizophora mangle on associated soil bacterial communities: a field‐based experiment

Hayley Craig, John Paul Kennedy, Donna J. Devlin, Richard D. Bardgett, Jennifer K. Rowntree

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Loss of plant biodiversity can result in reduced abundance and diversity of associated species with implications for ecosystem functioning. In ecosystems low in plant species diversity, such as Neotropical mangrove forests, it is thought that genetic diversity within the dominant plant species could play an important role in shaping associated communities. Here, we used a manipulative field experiment to study the effects of maternal genotypic identity and genetic diversity of the red mangrove Rhizophora mangle on the composition and richness of associated soil bacterial communities. Using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T‐RFLP) community fingerprinting, we found that bacterial community composition differed among R. mangle maternal genotypes but not with genetic diversity. Bacterial taxa richness, total soil nitrogen, and total soil carbon were not significantly affected by maternal genotypic identity or genetic diversity of R. mangle. Our findings show that genotype selection in reforestation projects could influence soil bacterial community composition. Further research is needed to determine what impact these bacterial community differences might have on ecosystem processes, such as carbon and nitrogen cycling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13957-13967
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number24
Early online date10 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • associated species
  • intraspecific diversity
  • plant genotype
  • plant-bacterial interactions
  • UKRI
  • NERC
  • NE/L002469/1

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