The bacterial ecology of Sitka spruce stumps
The distribution of bacteria in Sitka spruce stumps between one and ten years old was investigated by dilution plating wood chips taken from seven sampling positions up to 55 mm from the stump surface. The same wood chips were used to determine the presence Basidiomycotina within the stump wood. The number of bacterial colony forming units in the wood samples decreased in stumps between one and five years old, reaching a minimum after six years, before increasing in stumps up to ten years old. There was also a decline in numbers of bacteria isolated with increasing distance from the stump surface and the stump edge. A similar trend was detected in the diversity of the bacterial community. The size of the bacterial population was also correlated with stump moisture content. The presence of Basidiomycotina was associated with the presence of bacteria within the sample. However, the number of bacteria isolated from samples containing Basidiomycotina did not differ from that where no Basidiomycotina were isolated. Interactions between wood-decay fungi, including Heterobasidion annosum, and bacterial isolates were studied in vitro. The growth medium, timing of inoculations, and bacterial and fungal species tested were fund to significantly affect the outcome of the interaction. Bacterial isolates degraded cellulose, pectin and starch, cellulolytic ability increased with increasing stump age. Siderophores and chitinase, potential antifungal compounds, were produced by 29% and 2% of isolates respectively, however, these isolates had no effect on the distribution of Basidiomycotina in the stumps. Four groups of bacteria were identified from cluster analysis of 13 phenotypic characteristics. Different groups of bacteria were found to dominate bacteria isolated from stumps of different ages indicating that bacterial successions occur in decaying Sitka spruce stumps.