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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2012 Dec;82(3):551-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2012.01420.x. Epub 2012 Jun 25.

Effects of season and experimental warming on the bacterial community in a temperate mountain forest soil assessed by 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing.

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Bioresources Unit, Department of Health and Environment, AIT-Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Tulln, Austria.


Climate warming may induce shifts in soil microbial communities possibly altering the long-term carbon mineralization potential of soils. We assessed the response of the bacterial community in a forest soil to experimental soil warming (+4 °C) in the context of seasonal fluctuations. Three experimental plots were sampled in the fourth year of warming in summer and winter and compared to control plots by 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing. We sequenced 17,308 amplicons per sample and analysed operational taxonomic units at genetic distances of 0.03, 0.10 and 0.25, with respective Good's coverages of 0.900, 0.977 and 0.998. Diversity indices did not differ between summer, winter, control or warmed samples. Summer and winter samples differed in community structure at a genetic distance of 0.25, corresponding approximately to phylum level. This was mainly because of an increase of Actinobacteria in winter. Abundance patterns of dominant taxa (> 0.06% of all reads) were analysed individually and revealed, that seasonal shifts were coherent among related phylogenetic groups. Seasonal community dynamics were subtle compared to the dynamics of soil respiration. Despite a pronounced respiration response to soil warming, we did not detect warming effects on community structure or composition. Fine-scale shifts may have been concealed by the considerable spatial variation.

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