Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2021-148
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2021-148

  13 Jan 2022

13 Jan 2022

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

Lower functional redundancy in “narrow” than “broad” functions in global soil metagenomics

Huaihai Chen1, Kayan Ma1, Yu Huang1, Jiajiang Lin2, Christopher Schadt3,4, and Hao Chen1 Huaihai Chen et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, School of Ecology, Sun Yat-sen University, Shenzhen, 518107, China
  • 2Fujian Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou, 350007, China
  • 3Biosciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, 37831, USA
  • 4Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, 37996, USA

Abstract. Understanding the relationship between soil microbial taxonomic compositions and functional profiles is essential for predicting ecosystem functions under various environmental disturbances. However, even though microbial communities are sensitive to disturbance, ecosystem functions remain relatively stable, as soil microbes are likely to be functionally redundant. Microbial functional redundancy may be more associated with “broad” functions carried out by a wide range of microbes, than with “narrow” functions specialized by specific microorganisms. Thus, a comprehensive study to evaluate how microbial taxonomic compositions correlate with “broad” and “narrow” functional profiles is necessary. Here, we evaluated soil metagenomes worldwide to assess whether functional and taxonomic diversities differ significantly between the five “broad” and the five “narrow” functions that we chose. Our results revealed that compared with the five “broad” functions, soil microbes capable of performing the five “narrow” functions were more taxonomically diverse, and thus their functional diversity was more dependent on taxonomic diversity, implying lower levels of functional redundancy in “narrow” functions. Co-occurrence networks indicated that microorganisms conducting “broad” functions were positively related, but microbes specializing “narrow” functions were interacting mostly negatively. Our study provides strong evidence to support our hypothesis that functional redundancy is significantly different between “broad” and “narrow” functions in soil microbes, as the association of functional diversity with taxonomy were greater in the five “narrow” rather than the five “broad” functions.

Huaihai Chen et al.

Status: open (until 25 Feb 2022)

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Huaihai Chen et al.

Huaihai Chen et al.

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Short summary
By analyzing and generalizing microbial taxonomic and functional profiles, we provide strong evidence that the degree of soil microbial functional redundancy differ significantly between “broad” and “narrow” functions across the global. Future sequencing efforts will likely increase our confidence in comparative metagenomes and provide time-series information to further identify to what extent microbial functional redundancy regulates dynamic ecological fluxes across space and time.