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Research article2023Peer reviewed

Effects of nitrogen deposition on carbon and nutrient cycling along a natural soil acidity gradient as revealed by metagenomics

Hagh-Doust, Niloufar; Mikryukov, Vladimir; Anslan, Sten; Bahram, Mohammad; Puusepp, Rasmus; Dulya, Olesya; Tedersoo, Leho


Nitrogen (N) deposition and soil acidification are environmental challenges affecting ecosystem functioning, health, and biodiversity, but their effects on functional genes are poorly understood.Here, we utilized metabarcoding and metagenomics to investigate the responses of soil functional genes to N deposition along a natural soil pH gradient. Soil N content was uncorrelated with pH, enabling us to investigate their effects separately.Soil acidity strongly and negatively affected the relative abundances of most cluster of orthologous gene categories of the metabolism supercategory. Similarly, soil acidity negatively affected the diversity of functional genes related to carbon and N but not phosphorus cycling. Multivariate analyses showed that soil pH was the most important factor affecting microbial and functional gene composition, while the effects of N deposition were less important. Relative abundance of KEGG functional modules related to different parts of the studied cycles showed variable responses to soil acidity and N deposition. Furthermore, our results suggested that the diversity-function relationship reported for other organisms also applies to soil microbiomes.Since N deposition and soil pH affected microbial taxonomic and functional composition to a different extent, we conclude that N deposition effects might be primarily mediated through soil acidification in forest ecosystems.


climate change; functional diversity; KEGG pathways; microbial diversity; network analysis; nitrogen addition; shotgun metagenomics; soil acidification

Published in

New Phytologist
2023, Volume: 238, number: 6, pages: 2607-2620
Publisher: WILEY

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Soil Science

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