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Title: Over 150 years of long-term fertilization alters spatial scaling of microbial biodiversity

Spatial scaling is a critical issue in ecology, but how anthropogenic activities like fertilization affect spatial scaling is poorly understood, especially for microbial communities. Here, we determined the effects of long-term fertilization on the spatial scaling of microbial functional diversity and its relationships to plant diversity in the 150-year-old Park Grass Experiment, the oldest continuous grassland experiment in the world. Nested samples were taken from plots with contrasting inorganic fertilization regimes, and community DNAs were analyzed using the GeoChip-based functional gene array. The slopes of microbial gene-area relationships (GARs) and plant species-area relationships (SARs) were estimated in a plot receiving nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) and a control plot without fertilization. Our results indicated that long-term inorganic fertilization significantly increased both microbial GARs and plant SARs. Microbial spatial turnover rates (i.e., z values) were less than 0.1 and were significantly higher in the fertilized plot (0.0583) than in the control plot (0.0449) (P < 0.0001). The z values also varied significantly with different functional genes involved in carbon (C), N, P, and sulfur (S) cycling and with various phylogenetic groups (archaea, bacteria, and fungi). Similarly, the plant SARs increased significantly (P < 0.0001), from 0.225 in the controlmore » plot to 0.419 in the fertilized plot. Soil fertilization, plant diversity, and spatial distance had roughly equal contributions in shaping the microbial functional community structure, while soil geochemical variables contributed less. These results indicated that long-term agricultural practice could alter the spatial scaling of microbial biodiversity. Determining the spatial scaling of microbial biodiversity and its response to human activities is important but challenging in microbial ecology. Most studies to date are based on different sites that may not be truly comparable or on short-term perturbations, and hence, the results observed could represent transient responses. This study examined the spatial patterns of microbial communities in response to different fertilization regimes at the Rothamsted Research Experimental Station, which has become an invaluable resource for ecologists, environmentalists, and soil scientists. The current study is the first showing that long-term fertilization has dramatic impacts on the spatial scaling of microbial communities. By identifying the spatial patterns in response to long-term fertilization and their underlying mechanisms, this study makes fundamental contributions to predictive understanding of microbial biogeography.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [2] ;  [4] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [5] ;  [6]
  1. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing (China); Tsinghua Univ., Beijing (China); Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK (United States)
  2. Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK (United States)
  3. Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts (United Kingdom)
  4. Tsinghua Univ., Beijing (China)
  5. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing (China)
  6. Tsinghua Univ., Beijing (China);Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK (United States); Lawrence Berkeley National Lab., Berkeley, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
mBio (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: mBio (Online); Journal Volume: 6; Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 2150-7511
American Society for Microbiology
Research Org:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1215661