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How microhabitat affects bacterial communities in a semi-arid ecosystem

How microhabitat affects bacterial communities in a semi-arid ecosystem
Structural equation model showing the relative contributions of microhabitat factors on bacterial richness (a) and connectivity (b) via biocrust traits. Latent variables (colored ovals) are indicated by measured variables (black boxes) with their respective loadings shown. The width of the arrows indicates the strength of the causal relationships supplemented by standardized path coefficients (** P < 0.01, * P < 0.05). R2 values indicate the explained variance of response variables. Credit: Plant and Soil (2023). DOI: 10.1007/s11104-023-06184-3

Known as the living skin of dryland ecosystems, biocrust contains diverse soil microorganisms that are essential to biocrust formation and the maintenance of multiple ecological functions.

Biocrust modulates soil microbiomes, however, little is known about how local microhabitat conditions affect biocrust adaptation and subsequently alter soil microbiomes.

Researchers from the Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources and the Institute of Soil and Water Conservation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences collected biocrusts and from eight representative microhabitats and investigated the response of biocrusts and their to microhabitat variations in plant canopy coverage, slope aspect, and slope gradient in a semi-arid climate of the northern Loess Plateau in China.

Related findings were published in Plant and Soil.

They found that microhabitat factors could strongly influence soil bacterial communities through changes in locally adapted biocrust traits and soil properties.

Bacterial communities of biocrusts in the microhabitats under plant canopy and on shady or gentle slopes of fixed were characterized by a higher taxonomic richness and more complex community networks, indicating that the presence of the plant canopy has huge influence on biocrust bacterial communities.

In addition, indirect effect of microhabitat on biocrust also depended on the bacterial metric. Bacterial richness was strongly affected by microhabitat-induced changes in soil properties, and bacterial network connectivity was strongly affected by microhabitat-induced changes in biocrust traits and soil properties.

"This study facilitates a deeper understanding of the intricate relationships among soil microbiomes, biocrusts, and diverse local microhabitats in dryland ecosystems," said Wang Yanfeng from NIEER, first author of the study.

More information: Yanfeng Wang et al, Biocrust adaptations to microhabitat alter bacterial communities in a semiarid ecosystem, Plant and Soil (2023). DOI: 10.1007/s11104-023-06184-3

Citation: How microhabitat affects bacterial communities in a semi-arid ecosystem (2023, August 17) retrieved 17 June 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2023-08-microhabitat-affects-bacterial-communities-semi-arid.html
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