Linking Chilean wine production with ecosystem services provision to promote conservation practices in a biodiversity hotspot
Often protected areas are not enough to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem services. Thus, developing conservation strategies in human dominated landscapes, such as farmlands, has become imperative. The Chilean Mediterranean ecoregion hosts not only 50% of national vascular flora, but also support most of Chile´s agricultural production. Despite its ecological value and the threats, less than 1 % of the region is officially protected.
Wine industry is one of the key drivers on land change use in the region but also offers opportunities for conservation because it a) is currently switching into more sustainable practices to meet global market standards, b) owns many native vegetated areas, and c) relies on the “terroir” concept, epitomizing the importance of geographic, climate and edaphic conditions, to confer identity to their wine. Essential to this, are soil microorganisms controlling nutrient acquisition during vine growth, and yeasts and lactic bacteria during the vinification process. However little is known about the contribution adjacent native habitat can have over these communities. We employed environmental genomics tools to assess microbial community assemblages in soil and phyllosphere samples of vineyards and forests to determine ecosystem functions that contribute to wine production.
First, using T-RFLP approach to describe soil microbial community structures we found that bacterial communities are similar between forests and vineyards, whereas fungal communities were different between these habitats. Second, we employed a metagenomic approach to get detailed taxonomic information about soil microbial communities. For bacteria, we found that abundance of rare families differed between habitats whereas dominant families did not exhibit differences. Among fungi, most of the taxonomic classes were similar between habitats, except for Schizosaccharomycetes that were more abundant in soil vineyards. Third, we used a metagenomic approach to describe microbial organisms inhabiting in phyllosphere (leafs and berries).
We found that despite microbial community structure between native and vineyard phyllosphere differed, wine-fermenting yeasts were found on forest leafs. These results suggest that a) low-taxonomic levels of bacteria and high-taxonomic level of fungi show differential abundances between habitats; and b) native forest can work as natural reservoirs for fermenting yeasts, especially during vines dormant period. Our results suggest that the study of forests microbial communities and their relationship with vineyards is of paramount importance to understand the ecosystem services provided by native habitats and confer them an economic value thereby quantitatively promoting their conservation. CONICYT PFB 23, DID UACh