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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Patterns of local, intercontinental and interseasonal variation of soil bacterial and eukaryotic microbial communities

De Gruyter, Johan; Weedon, James T.; Bazot, Stephane; Dauwe, Steven; Fernandez-Garberi, Pere-Roc; Geisen, Stefan; De La Motte, Louis Gourlez; Heinesch, Bernard; Janssens, Ivan A.; Leblans, Niki; Manise, Tanguy; Ogaya, Roma; Lofvenius, Mikaell Ottosson; Penuelas, Josep; Sigurdsson, Bjarni D.; Vincent, Gaelle; Verbruggen, Erik


Although ongoing research has revealed some of the main drivers behind global spatial patterns of microbial communities, spatio-temporal dynamics of these communities still remain largely unexplored. Here, we investigate spatio-temporal variability of both bacterial and eukaryotic soil microbial communities at local and intercontinental scales. We compare how temporal variation in community composition scales with spatial variation in community composition, and explore the extent to which bacteria, protists, fungi and metazoa have similar patterns of temporal community dynamics. All soil microbial groups displayed a strong correlation between spatial distance and community dissimilarity, which was related to the ratio of organism to sample size. Temporal changes were variable, ranging from equal to local between-sample variation, to as large as that between communities several thousand kilometers apart. Moreover, significant correlations were found between bacterial and protist communities, as well as between protist and fungal communities, indicating that these microbial groups change in tandem, potentially driven by interactions between them. We conclude that temporal variation can be considerable in soil microbial communities, and that future studies need to consider temporal variation in order to reliably capture all drivers of soil microbiome changes.


soil microbial communities; spatio-temporal variability; microbial ecology; protists; soil biogeography

Published in

FEMS Microbiology Ecology
2020, Volume: 96, number: 3, article number: fiaa018