Non-synchronous structural and functional dynamics during the coalescence of two distinct soil bacterial communities

Xiaogang Wu, Ji Li, Mengmeng Ji, Qiaoyu Wu, Xinxin Wu, Yiming Ma, Weikang Sui, Liping Zhao, Xiaojun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Soil is a unique environment in which the microbiota is frequently subjected to community coalescence. Additions of organic fertilizer and precipitation of dust induce coalescent events in soil. However, the fates of these communities after coalescence remain uncharted. Thus, to explore the effects of microbiota coalescence, we performed reciprocal inoculation and incubation experiments in microcosms using two distinct soils. The soils were, respectively, collected from a cropland and an industrial site, and the reciprocal inoculation was performed as models for the incursion of highly exotic microbiota into the soil. After incubation under either aerobic or anaerobic conditions for two months, the soils were assayed for their bacterial community structure and denitrification function. According to the 16S rRNA gene sequencing results, the inoculated soil showed a significant shift in bacterial community structure after incubation-particularly in the industrial soil. The structures of the bacterial communities changed following the coalescence but were predicted to have the same functional potential, e.g., nitrogen metabolism, as determined by the quantification of denitrifying genes and nitrogen gas production in the inoculated soil samples, which showed values equivalent those in the original recipient soil samples regardless of inoculum used. The functional prediction based on the known genomes of the taxa that shifted in the incubated sample communities indicates that the high functional overlap and redundancy across bacteria acted as a mechanism that preserved all the metabolic functions in the soil. These findings hint at the mechanisms underlying soil biodiversity maintenance and ecosystem function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1125
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


  • Biological function
  • Community coalescence
  • Functional redundancy
  • Reciprocal inoculation
  • Soil bacterial community

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