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Spatial and Temporal Biogeography of Soil Microbial Communities in Arid and Semiarid Regions

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      Abstract

      Microbial communities in soils may change in accordance with distance, season, climate, soil texture and other environmental parameters. Microbial diversity patterns have been extensively surveyed in temperate regions, but few such studies attempted to address them with respect to spatial and temporal scales and their correlations to environmental factors, especially in arid ecosystems. In order to fill this gap on a regional scale, the molecular fingerprints and abundance of three taxonomic groups – Bacteria, α-Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria – were sampled from soils 0.5–100 km apart in arid, semi-arid, dry Mediterranean and shoreline Mediterranean regions in Israel. Additionally, on a local scale, the molecular fingerprints of three taxonomic groups – Bacteria, Archaea and Fungi – were sampled from soils 1 cm–500 m apart in the semi-arid region, in both summer and winter. Fingerprints of the Bacteria differentiated between all regions (P<0.02), while those of the α-Proteobacteria differentiated between some of the regions (0.01<P<0.09), and actinobacterial fingerprints were similar among all regions (P>0.05). Locally, fingerprints of archaea and fungi did not display distance-decay relationships (P>0.13), that is, the dissimilarity between communities did not increase with geographic distance. Neither was this phenomenon evident in bacterial samples in summer (P>0.24); in winter, however, differences between bacterial communities significantly increased as the geographic distances between them grew (P<0.01). Microbial community structures, as well as microbial abundance, were both significantly correlated to precipitation and soil characteristics: texture, organic matter and water content (R2>0.60, P<0.01). We conclude that on the whole, microbial biogeography in arid and semi-arid soils in Israel is determined more by specific environmental factors than geographic distances and spatial distribution patterns.

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      The diversity and biogeography of soil bacterial communities.

      For centuries, biologists have studied patterns of plant and animal diversity at continental scales. Until recently, similar studies were impossible for microorganisms, arguably the most diverse and abundant group of organisms on Earth. Here, we present a continental-scale description of soil bacterial communities and the environmental factors influencing their biodiversity. We collected 98 soil samples from across North and South America and used a ribosomal DNA-fingerprinting method to compare bacterial community composition and diversity quantitatively across sites. Bacterial diversity was unrelated to site temperature, latitude, and other variables that typically predict plant and animal diversity, and community composition was largely independent of geographic distance. The diversity and richness of soil bacterial communities differed by ecosystem type, and these differences could largely be explained by soil pH (r(2) = 0.70 and r(2) = 0.58, respectively; P < 0.0001 in both cases). Bacterial diversity was highest in neutral soils and lower in acidic soils, with soils from the Peruvian Amazon the most acidic and least diverse in our study. Our results suggest that microbial biogeography is controlled primarily by edaphic variables and differs fundamentally from the biogeography of "macro" organisms.
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        Pyrosequencing-based assessment of soil pH as a predictor of soil bacterial community structure at the continental scale.

        Soils harbor enormously diverse bacterial populations, and soil bacterial communities can vary greatly in composition across space. However, our understanding of the specific changes in soil bacterial community structure that occur across larger spatial scales is limited because most previous work has focused on either surveying a relatively small number of soils in detail or analyzing a larger number of soils with techniques that provide little detail about the phylogenetic structure of the bacterial communities. Here we used a bar-coded pyrosequencing technique to characterize bacterial communities in 88 soils from across North and South America, obtaining an average of 1,501 sequences per soil. We found that overall bacterial community composition, as measured by pairwise UniFrac distances, was significantly correlated with differences in soil pH (r = 0.79), largely driven by changes in the relative abundances of Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Bacteroidetes across the range of soil pHs. In addition, soil pH explains a significant portion of the variability associated with observed changes in the phylogenetic structure within each dominant lineage. The overall phylogenetic diversity of the bacterial communities was also correlated with soil pH (R(2) = 0.50), with peak diversity in soils with near-neutral pHs. Together, these results suggest that the structure of soil bacterial communities is predictable, to some degree, across larger spatial scales, and the effect of soil pH on bacterial community composition is evident at even relatively coarse levels of taxonomic resolution.
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          Microbial biogeography: putting microorganisms on the map.

          We review the biogeography of microorganisms in light of the biogeography of macroorganisms. A large body of research supports the idea that free-living microbial taxa exhibit biogeographic patterns. Current evidence confirms that, as proposed by the Baas-Becking hypothesis, 'the environment selects' and is, in part, responsible for spatial variation in microbial diversity. However, recent studies also dispute the idea that 'everything is everywhere'. We also consider how the processes that generate and maintain biogeographic patterns in macroorganisms could operate in the microbial world.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Microbiology and Plant Diseases, The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel
            [2 ]Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer, Israel
            [3 ]Forensic Biology Laboratory, Division of Identification and Forensic Science (DIFS), Israel Police National Headquarters, Jerusalem, Israel
            [4 ]Institute of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, Bet-Dagan, Israel
            Université Paris Sud, France
            Author notes

            Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

            Conceived and designed the experiments: OG EJ DM RG AA JG. Performed the experiments: AA JG SA. Analyzed the data: ZP AA JG. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: RG. Wrote the paper: ZP AA JG RG SA DM OG EJ.

            Contributors
            Role: Editor
            Journal
            PLoS One
            PLoS ONE
            plos
            plosone
            PLoS ONE
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            1932-6203
            2013
            26 July 2013
            : 8
            : 7
            23922779
            3724898
            PONE-D-13-00431
            10.1371/journal.pone.0069705
            (Editor)

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

            Counts
            Pages: 9
            Funding
            Funding for this project was provided by the Technical Support Working Group of the U.S. CTTSO (Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
            Categories
            Research Article
            Agriculture
            Soil Science
            Biology
            Ecology
            Community Ecology
            Community Assembly
            Community Structure
            Biogeography
            Microbial Ecology
            Soil Ecology
            Microbiology
            Bacteriology
            Bacterial Taxonomy
            Microbial Ecology

            Uncategorized

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