Differential sensitivity of total and active soil microbial communities to drought and forest management.

PubMed ID: 28614633


Bastida F, Torres IF, Andrés-Abellán M, Baldrian P, López-Mondéjar R, Větrovský T, Richnow HH, Starke R, Ondoño S, García C, López-Serrano FR, Jehmlich N

Glob Chang Biol. Jun 2017. doi: 10.1111/gcb.13790

Climate change will affect semiarid ecosystems through severe droughts that increase the competition for resources in plant and microbial communities. In these habitats, adaptations to climate change may consist of thinning - that reduces competition for resources through a decrease in tree density and the promotion of plant survival. We deciphered the functional and phylogenetic responses of the microbial community to six years of drought induced by rainfall exclusion and how forest management affects its resistance to drought, in a semiarid forest ecosystem dominated by Pinus halepensis Mill. A multiOMIC approach was applied to reveal novel, community-based strategies in the face of climate change. The diversity and the composition of the total and active soil microbiome were evaluated by 16S rRNA gene (bacteria) and ITS (fungal) sequencing, and by metaproteomics. The microbial biomass was analyzed by phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs), and the microbially-mediated ecosystem multifunctionality was studied by the integration of soil enzyme activities related to the cycles of C, N, and P. The microbial biomass and ecosystem multifunctionality decreased in drought-plots, as a consequence of the lower soil moisture and poorer plant development, but this decrease was more notable in unthinned plots. The structure and diversity of the total bacterial community was unaffected by drought at phylum and order level, but did so at genus level, and was influenced by seasonality. However, the total fungal community and the active microbial community were more sensitive to drought and were related to ecosystem multifunctionality. Thinning in plots without drought increased the active diversity while the total diversity was not affected. Thinning promoted the resistance of ecosystem multifunctionality to drought through changes in the active microbial community. The integration of total and active microbiome analyses avoids misinterpretations of the links between the soil microbial community and climate change. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.