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Epiphytic Tank Bromeliads in tropical forests: unveiling their role for seedling and soil bacterial communities through stable isotopes and metagenomic

Grant number: 20/06778-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2022
Effective date (End): August 06, 2024
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Gustavo Quevedo Romero
Grantee:Tháles Augusto Pereira
Host Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:19/08474-8 - Freshwater ecosystems under climate change: impacts across multiple levels of organisation, AP.PFPMCG.TEM
Associated scholarship(s):22/13538-8 - Epiphytic tank bromeliads in tropical forests: unveiling their role in shaping soil microbial communities using a metabarcoding approach, BE.EP.DR


Tropical forests, although they cover a very small portion of the planet, they harbor 50% to 80% of the total biodiversity of terrestrial ecosystems. Commonly, their luxuriant vegetation contrasts with acidic and dystrophic soils, where different cycling mechanisms ensure the maintenance of such vegetation. In these forests, above-ground stocks of nutrients are mostly found in the canopy, especially in epiphytes. Among epiphytes in neotropical forests, Tank Bromeliads stand out for their diversity, abundance and for accumulating remarkable volumes of water. Recently, it was found that the overflow of their tanks under rainfall events promotes the fertilization of soil patches, and this phenomenon has direct consequences on the structuring of seedling communities in the understory. Little is known about the dynamics of this nutrient pulse, as well as about the role of these epiphytes as amplifiers of environmental and biological diversity in neotropical forests. In the current work, we will investigate in a Restinga Forest the effects of the presence of Tank Bromeliads in the canopy both for seedling communities in the understory and for soil bacterial communities. Using isotopic tracers (N15), we will investigate the nutrient transfer from epiphytic Tank Bromeliads to seedlings in the understory, as well as assess the effect of this process on seedling growth and litter decomposition. To evaluate the effects of the presence of these epiphytes on soil bacterial communities, we will employ a metagenomic approach based on 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Given the key role of Tank Bromeliads in neotropical forests and the importance of soil microbiota for the multifunctionality of these ecosystems, we expect to generate knowledge that contributes to a better understanding of the functioning of these forests. We also expect to generate new findings to promote more effective strategies for their conservation and restoration. (AU)

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