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Summary

Rapidly fluctuating environmental conditions can significantly stress organisms, particularly when fluctuations cross thresholds of normal physiological tolerance. Redox potential fluctuations are common in humid tropical soils, and microbial community acclimation or avoidance strategies for survival will in turn shape microbial community diversity and biogeochemistry. To assess the extent to which indigenous bacterial and archaeal communities are adapted to changing in redox potential, soils were incubated under static anoxic, static oxic or fluctuating redox potential conditions, and the standing (DNA-based) and active (RNA-based) communities and biogeochemistry were determined. Fluctuating redox potential conditions permitted simultaneous CO2 respiration, methanogenesis, N2O production and iron reduction. Exposure to static anaerobic conditions significantly changed community composition, while 4-day redox potential fluctuations did not. Using RNA : DNA ratios as a measure of activity, 285 taxa were more active under fluctuating than static conditions, compared with three taxa that were more active under static compared with fluctuating conditions. These data suggest an indigenous microbial community adapted to fluctuating redox potential.