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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2019 Feb 1;95(2). doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiy230.

Deforestation impacts network co-occurrence patterns of microbial communities in Amazon soils.

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Department of Biology, University of Texas, Arlington, TX 76019, USA.
Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA.
Department of Microbiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.
Center for Microbial Ecology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.
Joint Genome Institute, United States Department of Energy, Walnut Creek, CA 94598, USA.
Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California - Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.
Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.


Co-occurrence networks allow for the identification of potential associations among species, which may be important for understanding community assembly and ecosystem functions. We employed this strategy to examine prokaryotic co-occurrence patterns in the Amazon soils and the response of these patterns to land use change to pasture, with the hypothesis that altered microbial composition due to deforestation will mirror the co-occurrence patterns across prokaryotic taxa. In this study, we calculated Spearman correlations between operational taxonomic units (OTUs) as determined by 16S rRNA gene sequencing, and only robust correlations were considered for network construction (-0.80 ≥ P ≥ 0.80, adjusted P < 0.01). The constructed network represents distinct forest and pasture components, with altered compositional and topological features. A comparative analysis between two representative modules of these contrasting ecosystems revealed novel information regarding changes to metabolic pathways related to nitrogen cycling. Our results showed that soil physicochemical properties such as temperature, C/N and H++Al3+ had a significant impact on prokaryotic communities, with alterations to network topologies. Taken together, changes in co-occurrence patterns and physicochemical properties may contribute to ecosystem processes including nitrification and denitrification, two important biogeochemical processes occurring in tropical forest systems.

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