A long-term field experiment of soil transplantation demonstrating the role of contemporary geographic separation in shaping soil microbial community structure

Authors

  • Bo Sun,

    Corresponding author
    1. State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, China
    • Correspondence

      Bo Sun, State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 71 East Beijing Road, Nanjing 210008, China. Tel: (86) 25 86881282; Fax: (86) 25 86881000;

      E-mail: bsun@issas.ac.cn

      and

      Xue-Xian Zhang, Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, Massey University at Albany, Auckland 0745, New Zealand.

      Tel: (64) 9 4140800; Fax: (64) 9 4148142;

      E-mail: x.x.zhang1@massey.ac.nz

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  • Feng Wang,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, China
    2. University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Yuji Jiang,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, China
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  • Yun Li,

    1. College of Resource & Environment, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu, China
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  • Zhixin Dong,

    1. Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Science, Chengdu, China
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  • Zhongpei Li,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, China
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  • Xue-Xian Zhang

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, Massey University at Albany, Auckland, New Zealand
    • Correspondence

      Bo Sun, State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 71 East Beijing Road, Nanjing 210008, China. Tel: (86) 25 86881282; Fax: (86) 25 86881000;

      E-mail: bsun@issas.ac.cn

      and

      Xue-Xian Zhang, Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, Massey University at Albany, Auckland 0745, New Zealand.

      Tel: (64) 9 4140800; Fax: (64) 9 4148142;

      E-mail: x.x.zhang1@massey.ac.nz

    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

The spatial patterns of microbial communities are largely determined by the combined effects of historical contingencies and contemporary environmental disturbances, but their relative importance remains poorly understood. Empirical biogeographic data currently available are mostly based on the traditional method of observational survey, which typically involves comparing indigenous microbial communities across spatial scales. Here, we report a long-term soil transplantation experiment, whereby the same two soils (red Acrisol and purple Cambisol from Yingtan) were placed into two geographic locations of ~1000 km apart (i.e., Yingtan in the mid-subtropical region and Fengqiu in warm-temperate region; both located in China). Twenty years after the transplantation, the resulting soil microbial communities were subject to high-throughput 454 pyrosequencing analysis of 16S and 18S rRNA genes. Additionally, bacteria and archaea involved in nitrogen cycling were estimated using clone library analysis of four genes: archaeal amoA, bacterial amoA, nirK, and nifH. Data of subsequent phylogenetic analysis show that bacteria, fungi, and other microbial eukaryotes, as well as the nitrogen cycling genes, are grouped primarily by the factor of geographic location rather than soil type. Moreover, a shift of microbial communities toward those in local soil (i.e., Chao soil in Fengqiu) has been observed. The results thus suggest that the historical effects persistent in the soil microbial communities can be largely erased by contemporary disturbance within a short period of 20 years, implicating weak effects of historical contingencies on the structure and composition of microbial communities in the soil.

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