|Table of Contents|

Spatial heterogeneity of microbial community and functional groups of different cushion species in alpine scree habitat in northwestern Yunnan, China (PDF)

Chinese Journal of Applied & Environmental Biology[ISSN:1006-687X/CN:51-1482/Q]

2021 05
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Spatial heterogeneity of microbial community and functional groups of different cushion species in alpine scree habitat in northwestern Yunnan, China
XIAO Zhuwei1 3 SONG Minshu1 ZHOU Jie2 SHI Lingling1 & YANG Yang1?
1 Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650224, China 2 Georg August University of G?ttingen, G?ttingen 37077, Germany 3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
soil microorganism microbial functional group alpine screes cushion plant high-throughput sequencing

Cushion species, one of the most pronounced examples of the highly specialized morphology occurring in systematically distant plant species in alpine areas, are well documented for their incredible capacity to modify soil conditions. They can affect both abiotic factors (e.g., water and nutrient contents) and biotic factors (e.g., microbial community diversity, composition, and structure). However, the spatial distributions of microbial communities and their functional groups among different plant species sharing similar cushion morphologies and their correlations with above- and belowground plant traits and soil chemical characteristics remain largely unstudied. In this work, we selected three typical cushion plant species (i.e., Androsace delavayi, Arenaria polytrichoides, and Rhodiola coccinea var. scabrida) that occur in the alpine scree habitat of Baima Snow Mountain, Deqen County, northwestern Yunnan Province, and examined the microbial community of soil samples collected at four different spatial locations therein: inside and at the edge of the aboveground cushion structure, the rhizosphere, and surrounding bare ground uncovered by any cushion species using high-throughput sequencing technology. The main findings were as follows. (1) There were significant differences in microbial community richness (observed species) and diversity (Shannon index) at the same spatial location among different cushion species but no significant spatial differences among each of these. Of the three cushion species studied, R. coccinea var. scabrida exhibited the greatest microbial community richness at all four spatial locations, while the microbial community richness and diversity in the rhizosphere of Androsace delavayi were the lowest. (2) In terms of the microbial community diversity, there was a significantly positive relationship soil pH and root length. Finally, (3) the microbial community exhibited clear species-specific and spatial differences in their compositions, dominant taxa, and functional groups, with a great proportion of some bacteria in nitrogen cycling groups (e.g., those performing nitrification, denitrification, and nitrate reduction). This suggested that microbes could potentially facilitate nutrient absorption by cushion plants growing in alpine scree, which is typically a nutrient-poor habitat. By demonstrating evidence of pronounced species-specific and spatial difference in the microbial community among different cushion species and highlighting the importance of environmental conditions (soil pH) and plant traits (root length and/or cushion structure), our study provides new information that improves the understanding of plant-microbe interactions at high elevations and their ecological significance to the adaptation of cushion species to alpine scree habitats.


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