Body size mediates the functional potential of soil organisms by diversity and community assembly across soil aggregates

Guofan Zhu, Lu Luan, Shungui Zhou, Francisco Dini-Andreote, Mohammad Bahram, Yunfeng Yang, Stefan Geisen, Jie Zheng, Shaopeng Wang, Yuji Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Body size is an important life-history trait that affects organism niche occupancy and ecological interactions. However, it is still unclear to what extent the assembly process of organisms with different body sizes affects soil biogeochemical cycling processes at the aggregate level. Here, we examined the diversity and community assembly of soil microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and protists) and microfauna (nematodes) with varying body sizes. The microbial functional potential associated with carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur metabolism within three soil aggregate sizes (large macroaggregates, > 2 mm; small macroaggregates, 0.25−2 mm; and microaggregates, < 0.25 mm) were determined by metagenomics. We found that the smallest microbes (bacteria) had higher α-diversity and lower β-diversity and were mostly structured by stochastic processes, while all larger organisms (fungi, protists, and nematodes) had lower α-diversity and were relatively more influenced by deterministic processes. Structural equation modeling indicated that the microbial functional potential associated with carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur metabolism was mainly influenced by the bacterial and protist diversity in microaggregates. In contrast, the microbial functional potential was primarily mediated by the assembly processes of four organism groups, especially the nematode community in macroaggregates. This study reveals the important roles of soil organisms with different body sizes in the functional potential related to nutrient cycling, and provides new insights into the ecological processes structuring the diversity and community assembly of organisms of different body sizes at the soil aggregate level, with implications for soil nutrient cycling dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number127669
JournalMicrobiological Research
Volume282
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology

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