Soil Microbial Networks Shift Across a High-Elevation Successional Gradient.
ABSTRACT: While it is well established that microbial composition and diversity shift along environmental gradients, how interactions among microbes change is poorly understood. Here, we tested how community structure and species interactions among diverse groups of soil microbes (bacteria, fungi, non-fungal eukaryotes) change across a fundamental ecological gradient, succession. Our study system is a high-elevation alpine ecosystem that exhibits variability in successional stage due to topography and harsh environmental conditions. We used hierarchical Bayesian joint distribution modeling to remove the influence of environmental covariates on species distributions and generated interaction networks using the residual species-to-species variance-covariance matrix. We hypothesized that as ecological succession proceeds, diversity will increase, species composition will change, and soil microbial networks will become more complex. As expected, we found that diversity of most taxonomic groups increased over succession, and species composition changed considerably. Interestingly, and contrary to our hypothesis, interaction networks became less complex over succession (fewer interactions per taxon). Interactions between photosynthetic microbes and any other organism became less frequent over the gradient, whereas interactions between plants or soil microfauna and any other organism were more abundant in late succession. Results demonstrate that patterns in diversity and composition do not necessarily relate to patterns in network complexity and suggest that network analyses provide new insight into the ecology of highly diverse, microscopic communities.
Project description:Terrestrial life in Antarctica has been described as some of the simplest on the planet, and mainly confined to soil microfaunal communities. Studies have suggested that the lack of diversity is due to extreme environmental conditions and thought to be driven by abiotic factors. In this study we investigated soil microfauna composition, abundance, and distribution in East Antarctica, and assessed correlations with soil geochemistry and environmental variables. We examined 109 soil samples from a wide range of ice-free habitats, spanning 2000 km from Framnes Mountains to Bailey Peninsula. Microfauna across all samples were patchily distributed, from complete absence of invertebrates to over 1600 specimens/gram of dry weight of soil (gdw), with highest microfauna abundance observed in samples with visible vegetation. Bdelloid rotifers were on average the most widespread found in 87% of sampled sites and the most abundant (44 specimens/gdw). Tardigrades occurred in 57% of the sampled sites with an abundance of 12 specimens/gdw. Nematodes occurred in 71% of samples with a total abundance of 3 specimens/gdw. Ciliates and mites were rarely found in soil samples, with an average abundance of 1.3 and 0.04 specimens/gdw, respectively. We found that microfaunal composition and abundance were mostly correlated with the soil geochemical parameters; phosphorus, NO3 (-) and salinity, and likely to be the result of soil properties and historic landscape formation and alteration, rather than the geographic region they were sampled from. Studies focusing on Antarctic biodiversity must take into account soil geochemical and environmental factors that influence population and species heterogeneity.
Project description:Microbes that produce phosphatases play an important role in the cycling of phosphorus (P), a key nutrient in soil development. We studied the development, compositional turnover, and environmental drivers of microbial communities carrying the phosphatase-encoding phoD gene (here called phoD communities) in the course of primary succession in the Hailuogou glacier chronosequence. We selected the pioneer species Populus purdomii Rehder as a model plant to study the communities in rhizosphere and bulk soils along the chronosequence. The bulk and rhizosphere soils hosted distinct phoD communities. Changes in the taxa Pseudomonas and Pleomorphomonas in the rhizosphere and Bradyrhizobium, Cupriavidus, and Pleomorphomonas in the bulk soil were associated with soil development. The plant development and soil property changes along the chronosequence were accompanied with changes in the phoD communities. Soil pH, soil organic carbon, and total nitrogen contents that are directly related to the plant development and litter input differences along the chronosequence were the main factors related to changes in community compositions. The community similarity decreased along the chronosequence, and the distance decay rate was higher in the bulk soil than in the rhizosphere. In summary, both in the rhizosphere and in bulk soils the phoD community succession was shaped by plant and soil development-related factors along the primary succession in the Hailuogou glacier chronosequence.IMPORTANCE Phosphorus was the key limiting nutrient for soil development during primary succession that occurred in alpine and high-latitude ecosystems with cold and humid climates. The interactions of functional microbiota involved in phosphorus cycling in the rhizosphere under different soil developmental stages along primary succession are still rarely examined. We selected the pioneer species Populus purdomii as a model plant to study the phoD-harboring bacterial communities in rhizosphere and bulk soils along a mountain glacier chronosequence. Our results showed that the bulk soils and rhizosphere host distinct phoD communities and diversity that differentially varied along the chronosequence, describing in detail the development and compositional turnover of the phoD community in the course of primary succession and determining the main environmental factors driving the development.
Project description:Understanding the relationships between vegetative and environmental variables is important for revegetation and ecosystem management on the Loess Plateau, China. Lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) has been widely used in the region to improve revegetation, soil and water conservation, and to enhance livestock production. However, there is little information on how environmental factors influence long-term succession in lucerne-rich vegetation. Our objective was to identify the main environmental variables controlling the succession process in lucerne-rich vegetation such that native species are not suppressed after sowing on the Loess Plateau. Vegetation and soil surveys were performed in 31 lucerne fields (three lucerne fields without any management from 2003-2013 and 28 fields containing 11-year-old lucerne with one cutting each year). Time after planting was the most important factor affecting plant species succession. Cutting significantly affected revegetation characteristics, such as aboveground biomass, plant density and diversity. Soil moisture content, soil organic carbon, soil available phosphorus and slope aspect were key environmental factors affecting plant species composition and aboveground biomass, density and diversity. Long-term cutting can cause self-thinning in lucerne, maintain the stability of lucerne production and slow its degradation. For effective management of lucerne fields, phosphate fertilizer should be applied and cutting performed.
Project description:In the context of secondary forest succession, aboveground-belowground interactions are known to affect the dynamics and functional structure of plant communities. However, the links between soil microbial communities, soil abiotic properties, plant functional traits in the case of semi-arid and arid ecosystems, are unclear. In this study, we investigated the changes in soil microbial species diversity and community composition, and the corresponding effects of soil abiotic properties and plant functional traits, during a ?150-year secondary forest succession on the Loess Plateau, which represents a typical semi-arid ecosystem in China. Plant community fragments were assigned to six successional stages: 1-4, 4-8, 8-15, 15-50, 50-100, and 100-150 years after abandonment. Bacterial and fungal communities were analyzed by high-throughput sequencing of the V4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS2) region of the rRNA operon, respectively. A multivariate variation-partitioning approach was used to estimate the contributions of soil properties and plant traits to the observed microbial community composition. We found considerable differences in bacterial and fungal community compositions between the early (S1-S3) and later (S4-S6) successional stages. In total, 18 and 12 unique families were, respectively, obtained for bacteria and fungi, as indicators of microbial community succession across the six stages. Bacterial alpha diversity was positively correlated with plant species alpha diversity, while fungal diversity was negatively correlated with plant species diversity. Certain fungal and bacterial taxa appeared to be associated with the occurrence of dominant plant species at different successional stages. Soil properties (pH, total N, total C, NH<sub>4</sub>-N, NO<sub>3</sub>-N, and PO<sub>4</sub>-P concentrations) and plant traits explained 63.80% and 56.68% of total variance in bacterial and fungal community compositions, respectively. These results indicate that soil microbial communities are coupled with plant communities via the mediation of microbial species diversity and community composition over a long-term secondary forest succession in the semi-arid ecosystem. The bacterial and fungal communities show distinct patterns in response to plant community succession, according to both soil abiotic properties and plant functional traits.
Project description:The succession of microbial community structure and function is a central ecological topic, as microbes drive the Earth's biogeochemical cycles. To elucidate the response and mechanistic underpinnings of soil microbial community structure and metabolic potential relevant to natural forest succession, we compared soil microbial communities from three adjacent natural forests: a coniferous forest (CF), a mixed broadleaf forest (MBF) and a deciduous broadleaf forest (DBF) on Shennongjia Mountain in central China. In contrary to plant communities, the microbial taxonomic diversity of the DBF was significantly (P?<?0.05) higher than those of CF and MBF, rendering their microbial community compositions markedly different. Consistently, microbial functional diversity was also highest in the DBF. Furthermore, a network analysis of microbial carbon and nitrogen cycling genes showed the network for the DBF samples was relatively large and tight, revealing strong couplings between microbes. Soil temperature, reflective of climate regimes, was important in shaping microbial communities at both taxonomic and functional gene levels. As a first glimpse of both the taxonomic and functional compositions of soil microbial communities, our results suggest that microbial community structure and function potentials will be altered by future environmental changes, which have implications for forest succession.
Project description:Due to the environmental conditions presented in arid zones, it is expected to have a high influence of deterministic processes over the community assemblages. Symbiotic interactions with microorganisms could increase colonization and survival of plants in difficult conditions, independent of the plants physiological and morphological characteristics. In this context, the microbial communities associated to plants that inhabit these types of areas can be a good model to understand the community assembly processes. We investigated the influence of stochastic and deterministic processes in the assemblage of rhizosphere microbial communities of Agave lechuguilla and bulk soil on the Cuatro Cienegas Basin, a site known for its oligotrophic conditions. We hypothesize that rhizospheric microbial communities of A. lechuguilla differ from those of bulk soil as they differ in physicochemical properties of soil and biotic interactions, including not only the plant, but also their microbial co-occurrence networks, it is expected that microbial species usually critical for plant growth and health are more common in the rhizosphere, whereas in the bulk soil microbial species related to the resistance to abiotic stress are more abundant. In order to confirm this hypothesis, 16S rRNA gene was sequenced by Illumina from rhizospheric and bulk soil samples in two seasons, also the physicochemical properties of the soil were determined. Our results showed differences in bacterial diversity, community composition, potential functions, and interaction networks between the rhizosphere samples and the ones from bulk soil. Although community structure arises from a complex interplay between deterministic and stochastic forces, our results suggest that A. lechuguilla recruits specific rhizospheric microbes with functional traits that benefits the plant through growth promotion and nutrition. This selection follows principally a deterministic process that shapes the rhizospheric microbial communities, directed by the plant modifications around the roots but also subjected to the influence of other environmental variables, such as seasonality and soil properties. Interestingly, keystone taxa in the interactions networks, not necessarily belong to the most abundant taxonomic groups, but they have an important role by their functional traits and keeping the connections on the community network.
Project description:Accelerated by global climate changing, retreating glaciers leave behind soil chronosequences of primary succession. Current knowledge of primary succession is mainly from studies of vegetation dynamics, whereas information about belowground microbes remains unclear. Here, we combined shifts in community assembly processes with microbial primary succession to better understand mechanisms governing the stochastic/deterministic balance. We investigated fungal succession and community assembly via high-throughput sequencing along a well-established glacier forefront chronosequence that spans 2-188 years of deglaciation. Shannon diversity and evenness peaked at a distance of 370 m and declined afterwards. The response of fungal diversity to distance varied in different phyla. Basidiomycota Shannon diversity significantly decreased with distance, while the pattern of Rozellomycota Shannon diversity was unimodal. Abundance of most frequencies OTU2 (Cryptococcus terricola) increased with successional distance, whereas that of OTU65 (Tolypocladium tundrense) decreased. Based on null deviation analyses, composition of the fungal community was initially governed by deterministic processes strongly but later less deterministic processes. Our results revealed that distance, altitude, soil microbial biomass carbon, soil microbial biomass nitrogen and [Formula: see text]-N significantly correlated with fungal community composition along the chronosequence. These results suggest that the drivers of fungal community are dynamics in a glacier chronosequence, that may relate to fungal ecophysiological traits and adaptation in an evolving ecosystem. The information will provide understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of microbial community assembly during ecosystem succession under different scales and scenario.
Project description:The mechanisms which structure communities have been the focus of a large body of research. Here, we address the question if habitat characteristics describing habitat quality may drive changes in community composition and beta diversity of bromeliad-inhabiting microfauna. In our system, changes in canopy cover along an environmental gradient may affect resource availability, disturbance in form of daily water temperature fluctuations and predation, and thus may lead to changes in community structure of bromeliad microfauna through differences in habitat quality along this gradient. Indeed, we observed distinct changes in microfauna community composition along the environmental gradient explained by changes in the extent of daily water temperature fluctuations. We found beta diversity to be higher under low habitat quality (low canopy cover) than under high habitat quality (high canopy cover), which could potentially be explained by a higher relative importance of stochastic processes under low habitat quality. We also partitioned beta diversity into turnover and nestedness components and we found a nested pattern of beta diversity along the environmental gradient, with communities from the lower-quality habitat being nested subsets of communities from the higher-quality habitat. However, this pattern resulted from an increase in microfauna alpha diversity with an increase in habitat quality. By providing insights into microfauna-environment relationships our results contribute to the mechanistic understanding of community dynamics in small freshwater bodies. Here, we highlight the importance of habitat characteristics representing habitat quality in structuring communities, and suggest that this information may help to improve conservation practices of small freshwater ecosystems.
Project description:During early plant succession, the phylogenetic structure of a community changes in response to important environmental filters and emerging species interactions. We traced the development of temperate-zone plant communities during the first 7 years of primary succession on catchment soils to explore patterns of initial species assembly. We found pronounced small-scale differences in the phylogenetic composition of neighbouring plant assemblages and a large-scale trend towards phylogenetic evenness. This small-scale variability appears to be mediated by soil properties, particularly carbonate content. Therefore, abiotic environmental conditions might counteract or even supersede the effects of interspecific competition among closely related species, which are usually predicted to exhibit patterns of phylogenetic evenness. We conclude that theories on phylogenetic community composition need to incorporate effects of small-scale variability of environmental factors.
Project description:This study investigated the potential role of a nitrogen-fixing early-coloniser Alnus Nepalensis D. Don (alder) in driving the changes in soil bacterial communities during secondary succession. We found that bacterial diversity was positively associated with alder growth during course of ecosystem development. Alder development elicited multiple changes in bacterial community composition and ecological networks. For example, the initial dominance of actinobacteria within bacterial community transitioned to the dominance of proteobacteria with stand development. Ecological networks approximating species associations tend to stabilize with alder growth. Janthinobacterium lividum, Candidatus Xiphinematobacter and Rhodoplanes were indicator species of different growth stages of alder. While the growth stages of alder has a major independent contribution to the bacterial diversity, its influence on the community composition was explained conjointly by the changes in soil properties with alder. Alder growth increased trace mineral element concentrations in the soil and explained 63% of variance in the Shannon-diversity. We also found positive association of alder with late-successional Quercus leucotrichophora (Oak). Together, the changes in soil bacterial community shaped by early-coloniser alder and its positive association with late-successional oak suggests a crucial role played by alder in ecosystem recovery of degraded habitats.