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Journal Articles Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences Year : 2020

The ecology of heterogeneity: soil bacterial communities and C dynamics

Abstract

Heterogeneity is a fundamental property of soil that is often overlooked in microbial ecology. Although it is generally accepted that the heterogeneity of soil underpins the emergence and maintenance of microbial diversity, the profound and far-reaching consequences that heterogeneity can have on many aspects of microbial ecology and activity have yet to be fully apprehended and have not been fully integrated into our understanding of microbial functioning. In this contribution we first discuss how the heterogeneity of the soil microbial environment, and the consequent uncertainty associated with acquiring resources, may have affected how microbial metabolism, motility and interactions evolved and, ultimately, the overall microbial activity that is represented in ecosystem models, such as heterotrophic decomposition or respiration. We then present an analysis of predicted metabolic pathways for soil bacteria, obtained from the MetaCyc pathway/genome database collection (https://metacyc.org/). The analysis suggests that while there is a relationship between phylogenic affiliation and the catabolic range of soil bacterial taxa, there does not appear to be a trade-off between the 16S rRNA gene copy number, taken as a proxy of potential growth rate, of bacterial strains and the range of substrates that can be used. Finally, we present a simple, spatially explicit model that can be used to understand how the interactions between decomposers and environmental heterogeneity affect the bacterial decomposition of organic matter, suggesting that environmental heterogeneity might have important consequences on the variability of this process.
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Dates and versions

hal-02895829 , version 1 (20-08-2020)

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Naoise Nunan, Hannes Schmidt, Xavier Raynaud. The ecology of heterogeneity: soil bacterial communities and C dynamics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2020, 375 (1798), ⟨10.1098/rstb.2019.0249⟩. ⟨hal-02895829⟩
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