Successional changes in the soil microbial community along a vegetation development sequence in a subalpine volcanic desert on Mount Fuji, Japan

Shinpei Yoshitake*, Masaaki Fujiyoshi, Kenichi Watanabe, Takehiro Masuzawa, Takayuki Nakatsubo, Hiroshi Koizumi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: To study the relationship between vegetation development and changes in the soil microbial community during primary succession in a volcanic desert, we examined successional changes in microbial respiration, biomass, and community structure in a volcanic desert on Mount Fuji, Japan. Methods: Soil samples were collected from six successional stages, including isolated island-like plant communities. We measured microbial respiration and performed phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis, and community-level physiological profile (CLPP) analysis using Biolog microplates. Results: Microbial biomass (total PLFA content) increased during plant succession and was positively correlated with soil properties including soil water and soil organic matter (SOM) contents. The microbial respiration rate per unit biomass decreased during succession. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling based on the PLFA, DGGE, and CLPP analyses showed a substantial shift in microbial community structure as a result of initial colonization by the pioneer herb Polygonum cuspidatum and subsequent colonization by Larix kaempferi into central areas of island-like communities. These shifts in microbial community structure probably reflect differences in SOM quality. Conclusions: Microbial succession in the volcanic desert of Mt. Fuji was initially strongly affected by colonization of the pioneer herbaceous plant (P. cuspidatum) associated with substantial changes in the soil environment. Subsequent changes in vegetation, including the invasion of shrubs such as L. kaempferi, also affected the microbial community structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-272
Number of pages12
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Mar


  • Island-like plant community
  • Microbial biomass
  • Microbial community structure
  • Primary succession
  • Volcanic desert

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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