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Dataset Information


Warming-induced shifts in Antarctic soil microorganisms disrupt soil functioning

ABSTRACT: Because of severe abiotic limitations, Antarctic soils represent simplified ecosystems, where microorganisms are the principle drivers of nutrient cycling. This relative simplicity makes these ecosystems particularly vulnerable to perturbations, like global warming, and the Antarctic Peninsula is among the most rapidly warming regions on the planet. However, the consequences of the ongoing warming of Antarctica on microorganisms and the processes they mediate are unknown. Here, using 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing and qPCR, we report a number of highly consistent changes in microbial community structure and abundance across very disparate sub-Antarctic and Antarctic environments following three years of experimental field warming (+ 0.5-2°C). Specifically, we found significant increases in the abundance of fungi and bacteria and in the Alphaproteobacteria-to-Acidobacteria ratio. These alterations were linked to a significant increase in soil respiration. Furthermore, the shifts toward generalist or opportunistic bacterial communities following warming weakened the linkage between bacterial diversity and functional diversity. Warming also increased the abundance of some organisms related to the N-cycle, detected as an increase in the relative abundance of nitrogenase genes via GeoChip microarray analyses. Our results demonstrate that soil microorganisms across a range of sub-Antarctic and Antarctic environments can respond consistently and rapidly to increasing temperatures, thereby potentially disrupting soil functioning. We conducted in situ warming experiments for three years using open-top chambers (OTCs) at one sub-Antarctic (Falkland Islands, 52ºS) and two Antarctic locations (Signy and Anchorage Islands, 60ºS and 67ºS respectively) (see Supplementary Fig. 1 for a map). OTCs increased annual soil temperature by an average of 0.8°C (at a depth of 5 cm), resulting in 8-43% increase in positive-degree days annually and a decrease in freeze-thaw cycle frequency by an average of 15 cycles per year (8). At each location, we included densely vegetated and bare fell-field soils in the experimental design for a total of six environments. Densely vegetated and bare environments represent two contrasting environments for Antarctic soil microorganisms, with large differences in terms of C and N inputs to soils. Massively parallel pyrosequencing (Roche 454 GS FLX Titanium) of 16S rRNA gene amplicons was used to follow bacterial diversity and community composition [GenBank Accession Numbers: HM641909-HM744649], and functional gene microarrays (GeoChip 2.0)(11) were used to assess changes in functional gene distribution. Bacterial and fungal communities were also quantified using real-time PCR.

SUBMITTER: George A Kowalchuk   Charles W Greer  Rien Aerts  Stef Bokhorst  Sanghoon Kang  Etienne Yergeau  Jizhong Zhou 

PROVIDER: E-GEOD-22825 | ArrayExpress | 2010-12-30



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