Distinct Biogeographic Patterns for Archaea, Bacteria, and Fungi along the Vegetation Gradient at the Continental Scale in Eastern China. Academic Article uri icon


  • The natural forest ecosystem in Eastern China, from tropical forest to boreal forest, has declined due to cropland development during the last 300¬†years, yet little is known about the historical biogeographic patterns and driving processes for the major domains of microorganisms along this continental-scale natural vegetation gradient. We predicted the biogeographic patterns of soil archaeal, bacterial, and fungal communities across 110 natural forest sites along a transect across four vegetation zones in Eastern China. The distance decay relationships demonstrated the distinct biogeographic patterns of archaeal, bacterial, and fungal communities. While historical processes mainly influenced bacterial community variations, spatially autocorrelated environmental variables mainly influenced the fungal community. Archaea did not display a distance decay pattern along the vegetation gradient. Bacterial community diversity and structure were correlated with the ratio of acid oxalate-soluble Fe to free Fe oxides (Feo/Fed ratio). Fungal community diversity and structure were influenced by dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and free aluminum (Ald), respectively. The role of these environmental variables was confirmed by the correlations between dominant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and edaphic variables. However, most of the dominant OTUs were not correlated with the major driving variables for the entire communities. These results demonstrate that soil archaea, bacteria, and fungi have different biogeographic patterns and driving processes along this continental-scale natural vegetation gradient, implying different community assembly mechanisms and ecological functions for archaea, bacteria, and fungi in soil ecosystems. IMPORTANCE Understanding biogeographic patterns is a precursor to improving our knowledge of the function of microbiomes and to predicting ecosystem responses to environmental change. Using natural forest soil samples from 110 locations, this study is one of the largest attempts to comprehensively understand the different patterns of soil archaeal, bacterial, and fungal biogeography at the continental scale in eastern China. These patterns in natural forest sites could ascertain reliable soil microbial biogeographic patterns by eliminating anthropogenic influences. This information provides guidelines for monitoring the belowground ecosystem's decline and restoration. Meanwhile, the deviations in the soil microbial communities from corresponding natural forest states indicate the extent of degradation of the soil ecosystem. Moreover, given the association between vegetation type and the microbial community, this information could be used to predict the long-term response of the underground ecosystem to the vegetation distribution caused by global climate change.

publication date

  • January 2017