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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dissimilar responses of fungal and bacterial communities to soil transplantation simulating abrupt climate changes

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Both fungi and bacteria play essential roles in regulating soil carbon cycling. To predict future carbon stability, it is imperative to understand their responses to environmental changes, which is subject to large uncertainty. As current global warming is causing range shifts toward higher latitudes, we conducted three reciprocal soil transplantation experiments over large transects in 2005 to simulate abrupt climate changes. Six years after soil transplantation, fungal biomass of transplanted soils showed a general pattern of changes from donor sites to destination, which were more obvious in bare fallow soils than in maize cropped soils. Strikingly, fungal community compositions were clustered by sites, demonstrating that fungi of transplanted soils acclimatized to the destination environment. Several fungal taxa displayed sharp changes in relative abundance, including Podospora, Chaetomium, Mortierella and Phialemonium. In contrast, bacterial communities remained largely unchanged. Consistent with the important role of fungi in affecting soil carbon cycling, 8.1%-10.0% of fungal genes encoding carbon-decomposing enzymes were significantly (p < 0.01) increased as compared with those from bacteria (5.7%-8.4%). To explain these observations, we found that fungal occupancy across samples was mainly determined by annual average air temperature and rainfall, whereas bacterial occupancy was more closely related to soil conditions, which remained stable 6 years after soil transplantation. Together, these results demonstrate dissimilar response patterns and resource partitioning between fungi and bacteria, which may have considerable consequences for ecosystem-scale carbon cycling.

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