Assessing the relationship between patch type and soil mites: A molecular approach

Gibb, Karen, Beard, Jennifer, O'Reagain, Peter, Christian, Keith, Torok, Valeria and Ophel-Keller, Kathy (2008) Assessing the relationship between patch type and soil mites: A molecular approach. Pedobiologia, 51 5-6: 445-461. doi:10.1016/j.pedobi.2008.01.004

Author Gibb, Karen
Beard, Jennifer
O'Reagain, Peter
Christian, Keith
Torok, Valeria
Ophel-Keller, Kathy
Title Assessing the relationship between patch type and soil mites: A molecular approach
Journal name Pedobiologia   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0031-4056
Publication date 2008-04-30
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.pedobi.2008.01.004
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 51
Issue 5-6
Start page 445
End page 461
Total pages 17
Place of publication Munich, Germany
Publisher Urban und Fischer Verlag
Language eng
Formatted abstract
An urgent need exists for indicators of soil health and patch functionality in extensive rangelands that can be measured efficiently and at low cost. Soil mites are candidate indicators, but their identification and handling is so specialised and timeconsuming that their inclusion in routine monitoring is unlikely. The aim of this study was to measure the relationship between patch type and mite assemblages using a conventional approach. An additional aim was to determine if a molecular approach traditionally used for soil microbes could be adapted for soil mites to overcome some of the bottlenecks associated with soil fauna diversity assessment. Soil mite species abundance and diversity were measured using conventional ecological methods in soil from patches with perennial grass and litter cover (PGL), and compared to soil from bare patches with annual grasses and/or litter cover (BAL). Soil mite assemblages were also assessed using a molecular method called terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis. The conventional data showed a relationship between patch type and mite assemblage. The Prostigmata and Oribatida were well represented in the PGL sites, particularly the Aphelacaridae (Oribatida). For T-RFLP analysis, the mite community was represented by a series of DNA fragment lengths that reflected mite sequence diversity. The T-RFLP data showed a distinct difference in the mite assemblage between the patch types. Where possible, T-RFLP peaks were matched to mite families using a reference 18S rDNA database, and the Aphelacaridae prevalent in the conventional samples at PGL sites were identified, as were prostigmatids and oribatids. We identified limits to the T-RFLP approach and this included an inability to distinguish some species whose DNA sequences were similar. Despite these limitations, the data still showed a clear difference between sites, and the molecular taxonomic inferences also compared well with the conventional ecological data. The results from this study indicated that the T-RFLP approach was effective in measuring mite assemblages in this system. The power of this technique lies in the fact that species diversity and abundance data can be obtained quickly because of the time taken to process hundreds of samples, from soil DNA extraction to data output on the gene analyser, can be as little as 4 days.
Keyword Soil mites
Patch type
Tropical savannas
18S rRNA
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Created: Thu, 03 Sep 2009, 20:07:09 EST by Mr Andrew Martlew on behalf of School of Biological Sciences