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Research article2021Peer reviewed

Small-Scale Variability in Bacterial Community Structure in Different Soil Types

Hugoni, Mylene; Nunan, Naoise; Thioulouse, Jean; Dubost, Audrey; Abrouk, Danis; Martins, Jean M. F.; Goffner, Deborah; Prigent-Combaret, Claire; Grundmann, Genevieve


Microbial spatial distribution has mostly been studied at field to global scales (i.e., ecosystem scales). However, the spatial organization at small scales (i.e., centimeter to millimeter scales), which can help improve our understanding of the impacts of spatial communities structure on microbial functioning, has received comparatively little attention. Previous work has shown that small-scale spatial structure exists in soil microbial communities, but these studies have not compared soils from geographically distant locations, nor have they utilized community ecology approaches, such as the core and satellite hypothesis and/or abundance-occupancy relationships, often used in macro-ecology, to improve the description of the spatial organization of communities. In the present work, we focused on bacterial diversity (i.e., 16S rRNA gene sequencing) occurring in micro-samples from a variety of locations with different pedo-climatic histories (i.e., from semi-arid, alpine, and temperate climates) and physicochemical properties. The forms of ecological spatial relationships in bacterial communities (i.e., occupancy-frequency and abundance-occupancy) and taxa distributions (i.e., habitat generalists and specialists) were investigated. The results showed that bacterial composition differed in the four soils at the small scale. Moreover, one soil presented a satellite mode distribution, whereas the three others presented bimodal distributions. Interestingly, numerous core taxa were present in the four soils among which 8 OTUs were common to the four sites. These results confirm that analyses of the small-scale spatial distribution are necessary to understand consequent functional processes taking place in soils, affecting thus ecosystem functioning.


Bacterial diversity; Community structure; Soil; Spatial scale; Ecological strategies

Published in

Microbial Ecology
2021, Volume: 82, number: 2, pages: 470-483
Publisher: SPRINGER

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Soil Science

    Publication identifier


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