The relationship between compost amendment, plant biomass produced, and bacterial root colonization as measured by fluorescence in situ hybridization was examined following plant growth in mine tailings. Mine tailings can remain devoid of vegetation for decades after deposition due to a combination of factors that include heavy metal toxicity, low pH, poor substrate structure and water-holding capacity, and a severely impacted heterotrophic microbial community. Research has shown that plant establishment, a desired remedial objective to reduce eolian and water erosion of such tailings, is enhanced by organic matter amendment and is correlated with significant increases in rhizosphere populations of neutrophilic heterotrophic bacteria. Results show that for the acidic metalliferous tailings tested in this study, compost amendment was associated with significantly increased bacterial colonization of roots and increased production of plant biomass. In contrast, for a Vinton control soil, increased compost had no effect on root colonization and resulted only in increased plant biomass at high levels of compost amendment. These data suggest that the positive association between compost amendment and root colonization is important in the stressed mine tailings environment where root colonization may enhance both microbial and plant survival and growth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology