Long-Term Stochasticity Combines With Short-Term Variability in Assembly Processes to Underlie Rice Paddy Sustainability

Wenjing Liu, Emily B. Graham, Linghao Zhong, Jianwei Zhang, Shijie Li, Xiangui Lin, Youzhi Feng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Revealing temporal patterns of community assembly processes is important for understanding how microorganisms underlie the sustainability of agroecosystem. The ancient terraced rice paddies at Longji provide an ideal platform to study temporal dynamics of agroecosystem sustainability due to their chronosequential records of soil physicochemistry and well-archived microbial information along 630-year rice cultivation. We used statistical null models to evaluate microbial assembly processes along the soil chronosequences of Longji rice paddies through time. Stochastic and deterministic assembly processes jointly governed microbial community composition within successional eras (less than 250 years), and within-era determinism was mainly driven by soil fertility and redox conditions alone or in combination. Conversely, across successional eras (i.e., over 300 years), stochasticity linearly increased with increasing duration between eras and was eventually predominant for the whole 630 years. We suggest that the impact of stochasticity vs. determinism on assembly is timescale-dependent, and we propose that the importance of stochastic assembly of microbial community at longer timescales is due to the gradual changes in soil properties under long-term rice cultivation, which in turn contribute to the sustainability of paddy ecosystem by maintaining a diverse community of microorganisms with multi-functional traits. In total, our results indicate that knowledge on the timescales at which assembly processes govern microbial community composition is key to understanding the ecological mechanisms generating agroecosystem sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number873
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - May 15 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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