Contrasting soil microbial community functional structures in two major landscapes of the Tibetan alpine meadow

Houjuan Chu, Shiping Wang, Haowei Yue, Qiaoyan Lin, Yigang Hu, Xiangzhen Li, Jizhong Zhou, Yunfeng Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The grassland and shrubland are two major landscapes of the Tibetan alpine meadow, a region very sensitive to the impact of global warming and anthropogenic perturbation. Herein, we report a study showing that a majority of differences in soil microbial community functional structures, measured by a functional gene array named GeoChip 4.0, in two adjacent shrubland and grassland areas, were explainable by environmental properties, suggesting that the harsh environments in the alpine grassland rendered niche adaptation important. Furthermore, genes involved in labile carbon degradation were more abundant in the shrubland than those of the grassland but genes involved in recalcitrant carbon degradation were less abundant, which was conducive to long-term carbon storage and sequestration in the shrubland despite low soil organic carbon content. In addition, genes of anerobic nitrogen cycling processes such as denitrification and dissimilatory nitrogen reduction were more abundant, shifting soil nitrogen cycling toward ammonium biosynthesis and consequently leading to higher soil ammonium contents. We also noted higher abundances of stress genes responsive to nitrogen limitation and oxygen limitation, which might be attributed to low total nitrogen and higher water contents in the shrubland. Together, these results provide mechanistic knowledge about microbial linkages to soil carbon and nitrogen storage and potential consequences of vegetation shifts in the Tibetan alpine meadow. The grassland and shrubland are two major landscapes of the Tibetan alpine meadow, a region very sensitive to the impact of global warming and anthropogenic perturbation. Herein, we report a study showing that a majority of differences in soil microbial community functional structures, measured by a functional gene array named GeoChip 4.0, in two adjacent shrubland and grassland areas, were explainable by environmental properties. Our results provide mechanistic knowledge about microbial linkages to soil carbon and nitrogen storage and potential consequences of vegetation shifts in the Tibetan alpine meadow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-594
Number of pages10
JournalMicrobiologyOpen
Volume3
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alpine grassland
  • GeoChip
  • Soil microbial community
  • Tibetan plateau

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