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Epiphytic tank bromeliads in tropical forests: unveiling their role in shaping soil microbial communities using a metabarcoding approach

Grant number: 22/13538-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2023
Effective date (End): July 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Microbiology
Principal Investigator:Gustavo Quevedo Romero
Grantee:Tháles Augusto Pereira
Supervisor: Carlos Guilherme Becker
Host Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: Pennsylvania State University, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:20/06778-7 - Epiphytic Tank Bromeliads in tropical forests: unveiling their role for seedling and soil bacterial communities through stable isotopes and metagenomic, BP.DR


Neotropical forests contain some of the highest plant and animal diversity of Earth's terrestrial ecosystems. In these forests, tank bromeliads stand out among other epiphytes due to their diversity, abundance, and the water storage capacity of their tanks. It has recently been verified that during rainfall events in a coastal rainforest site, part of the water in their tanks overflows and fertilizes the soil patches beneath them, affecting both the availability of soil nutrients and soil pH. It is known that edaphic factors are a strong predictor of the structure and functioning of soil microbial communities, and that these communities have a key role in driving the multifunctionality of terrestrial ecosystems. Therefore, given the abundance of epiphytic tank bromeliads in many Neotropical forests and the water volume stored by them (which can exceed 50,000 L ha-1), the contribution of these plants to the structuring of soil microbial communities and forest nutrient cycling may be neglected. Here, we will employ a high-throughput 16S rRNA metabarcoding approach to investigate the effects of the presence of tank bromeliads in the canopy on soil bacterial communities in a coastal sandy forest in Brazil. We will also investigate, via piecewise structural equation models, the effects of changes in soil chemical properties on bacterial community structure and soil microbial activity. Through this study, we hope to improve our understanding of the functioning of these forests, leading to new findings that help promote more effective strategies for their restoration and conservation. (AU)

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