Soil microbial composition and carbon mineralization are associated with vegetation type and temperature regime in mesocosms of a semiarid ecosystem

Morena Avitia, Alberto Barrón-Sandoval, Alejandra Hernández-Terán, Mariana Benítez, Greg A. Barron-Gafford, Katerina Dontsova, Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman, Ana E. Escalante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Transition from historic grasslands to woody plants in semiarid regions has led to questions about impacts on soil functioning, where microorganisms play a primary role. Understanding the relationship between microbes, plant diversity and soil functioning is relevant to assess such impacts. We evaluate the effect that plant type change in semiarid ecosystems has for microbial diversity and composition, and how this is related to carbon mineralization (CMIN) as a proxy for soil functioning. We followed a mesocosm experiment during 2 years within the Biosphere 2 facility in Oracle, AZ, USA. Two temperature regimes were established with two types of plants (grass or mesquite). Soil samples were analyzed for physicochemical and functional parameters, as well as microbial community composition using 16S rRNA amplicon metagenomics (Illumina MiSeq). Our results show the combined role of plant type and temperature regime in CMIN, where CMIN in grass has lower values at elevated temperatures compared with the opposite trend in mesquite. We also found a strong correlation of microbial composition with plant type but not with temperature regime. Overall, we provide evidence of the major effect of plant type in the specific composition of microbial communities as a potential result of the shrub encroachment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberfnab012
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Volume368
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

Keywords

  • Biosphere 2
  • carbon mineralization
  • microbial community assembly
  • plant-soil-microbe interaction
  • shrub encroachment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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