Arid Ecosystem Vegetation Canopy-Gap Dichotomy: Influence on Soil Microbial Composition and Nutrient Cycling Functional Potential
Neilson, Julia W.
Fontana, Catherine G.
Butterfield, Bradley J.
Maier, Raina M.
AffiliationDepartment of Environmental Science, University of Arizona
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherAmerican Society for Microbiology
CitationKushwaha, P., Neilson, J. W., Barberán, A., Chen, Y., Fontana, C. G., Butterfield, B. J., & Maier, R. M. (2021). Arid Ecosystem Vegetation Canopy-Gap Dichotomy: Influence on Soil Microbial Composition and Nutrient Cycling Functional Potential. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 87(5).
Rights© 2021 American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
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AbstractIncreasing temperatures and drought in desert ecosystems are predicted to cause decreased vegetation density combined with barren ground expansion. It remains unclear how nutrient availability, microbial diversity, and the associated functional capacity vary between the vegetated canopy and gap soils. The specific aim of this study was to characterize canopy versus gap microsite effect on soil microbial diversity, the capacity of gap soils to serve as a canopy soil microbial reservoir, nitrogen (N)-mineralization genetic potential (ureC gene abundance) and urease enzyme activity, and microbial-nutrient pool associations in four arid-hyperarid geolocations of the western Sonoran Desert, Arizona, United States. Microsite combined with geolocation explained 57% and 45.8% of the observed variation in bacterial/archaeal and fungal community composition, respectively. A core microbiome of amplicon sequence variants was shared between the canopy and gap soil communities; however, canopy soils included abundant taxa that were not present in associated gap communities, thereby suggesting that these taxa cannot be sourced from the associated gap soils. Linear mixed-effects models showed that canopy soils have significantly higher microbial richness, nutrient content, and organic N-mineralization genetic and functional capacity. Furthermore, ureC gene abundance was detected in all samples, suggesting that ureC is a relevant indicator of N mineralization in deserts. Additionally, novel phylogenetic associations were observed for ureC, with the majority belonging to Actinobacteria and uncharacterized bacteria. Thus, key N-mineralization functional capacity is associated with a dominant desert phylum. Overall, these results suggest that lower microbial diversity and functional capacity in gap soils may impact ecosystem sustainability as aridity drives openspace expansion in deserts.
Note6 month embargo; first published online 11 December 2020
VersionFinal accepted manuscript
SponsorsNational Institute of Environmental Health Sciences