The researchers used next generation sequencing of the DNA in soil from samples taken across the site that had a range of plantings between six and 10 years old.
The technique – high-throughput amplicon sequencing of environmental DNA (eDNA), otherwise known as eDNA metabarcoding – identifies and quantifies the different species of bacteria in a sample.
The researchers – students Nick Gellie and Jacob Mills, Dr Martin Breed and Professor Lowe – analysed soil samples at the restoration site at Mt Bold Reservoir in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia, and compared them with neighbouring wilderness areas as ‘reference sites’.
“We showed that the bacterial community of an old field which had been grazed for over 100 years had recovered to a state similar to the natural habitat following native plant revegetation – an amazing success story,” says Dr Breed, Research Fellow in the Environment Institute.
“A dramatic change in the bacterial community were observed after just eight years of revegetation. The bacterial communities in younger restoration sites were more similar to cleared sites, and older sites were more similar to the remnant patches of woodland.”
Revegetation rewilds the soil bacterial microbiome of an old field – Gellie – 2017 – Molecular Ecology – Wiley Online Library