Evolutionary history influences the salinity preference of bacterial taxa in wetland soils

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Salinity is a major driver of bacterial community composition across the globe. Despite growing recognition that different bacterial species are present or active at different salinities, the mechanisms by which salinity structures community composition remain unclear. We tested the hypothesis that these patterns reflect ecological coherence in the salinity preferences of phylogenetic groups using a reciprocal transplant experiment of fresh- and saltwater wetland soils. The salinity of both the origin and host environments affected community composition (16S rRNA gene sequences) and activity (CO2 and CH4 production, and extracellular enzyme activity). These changes in community composition and activity rates were strongly correlated, which suggests the effect of environment on function could be mediated, at least in part, by microbial community composition. Based on their distribution across treatments, each phylotype was categorized as having a salinity preference (freshwater, saltwater, or none) and phylogenetic analyses revealed a significant influence of evolutionary history on these groupings. This finding was corroborated by examining the salinity preferences of high-level taxonomic groups. For instance, we found that the majority of α- and γ-proteobacteria in these wetland soils preferred saltwater, while many β-proteobacteria prefer freshwater. Overall, our results indicate the effect of salinity on bacterial community composition results from phylogenetically-clustered salinity preferences.




Morrissey, E. M., & Franklin, R. B. (2015). Evolutionary history influences the salinity preference of bacterial taxa in wetland soils. Frontiers in Microbiology, 6(OCT). https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2015.01013

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