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Small-scale soil microbial community heterogeneity linked to landforms on King George Island, maritime Antarctica

By Yumin Zhang, Lu Lu, Xulu xChang, Fan Jiang, Xiangdong Gao, Fang Peng

Posted 28 Apr 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/310490

We analysed soil-borne microbial (bacterial, archaeal, and fungal) communities around the Fildes Region of King George Island, maritime Antarctica, which were divided into two groups according to soil elemental compositions and environmental attributes (soil chemical parameters and vegetation conditions) located in Holocene raised beach and Tertiary volcanic stratigraphy. Prokaryotic communities of the two groups were well separated; they predominantly correlated with soil elemental compositions, and were secondly correlated with environmental attributes (e.g., soil pH, total organic carbon, and vegetation coverage; Pearson test, r = 0.59 vs. 0.52, both P < 0.01). The relatively high abundance of P, S, Cl, and Br in Group 1 was likely due to landform uplift. Lithophile-elements (Si, Al, Ca, Sr, Ti, V, and Fe) correlated with prokaryotic communities in Group 2 may originate from weathering of Tertiary volcanic rock. The elements and nutrients accumulated during formation of different landforms influenced the development of soils, plant growth, and microbial communities, and resulted in small-scale spatially heterogeneous biological distributions. We propose that the geological evolution of the Fildes Region was crucial to its microbial community development.

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