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Opposing phylogenetic diversity gradients of plant and soil bacterial communities

Opposing phylogenetic diversity gradients of plant and soil bacterial communities

Proceedings. Biological Sciences 283(1825): 20153003

Plants and soil microbes show parallel patterns of species-level diversity. Diverse plant communities release a wider range of organics that are consumed by more microbial species. We speculated, however, that diversity metrics accounting for the evolutionary distance across community members would reveal opposing patterns between plant and soil bacterial phylogenetic diversity. Plant phylogenetic diversity enhances plant productivity and thus expectedly soil fertility. This, in turn, might reduce bacterial phylogenetic diversity by favouring one (or a few) competitive bacterial clade. We collected topsoils in 15 semi-arid plant patches and adjacent low-cover areas configuring a plant phylodiversity gradient, pyrosequenced the 16S rRNA gene to identify bacterial taxa and analysed soil fertility parameters. Structural equation modelling showed positive effects of both plant richness and phylogenetic diversity on soil fertility. Fertility increased bacterial richness but reduced bacterial phylogenetic diversity. This might be attributed to the competitive dominance of a lineage based on its high relative fitness. This suggests biotic interactions as determinants of the soil bacterial community assembly, while emphasizing the need to use phylogeny-informed metrics to tease apart the processes underlying the patterns of diversity.

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Accession: 058464213

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PMID: 26888037

DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.3003

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