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  1. Silva, Daniel de (Ed.)

    Quantitatively summarizing results from a collection of primary studies with meta-analysis can help answer ecological questions and identify knowledge gaps. The accuracy of the answers depends on the quality of the meta-analysis. We reviewed the literature assessing the quality of ecological meta-analyses to evaluate current practices and highlight areas that need improvement. From each of the 18 review papers that evaluated the quality of meta-analyses, we calculated the percentage of meta-analyses that met criteria related to specific steps taken in the meta-analysis process (i.e., execution) and the clarity with which those steps were articulated (i.e., reporting). We also re-evaluated all the meta-analyses available from Pappalardo et al. [1] to extract new information on ten additional criteria and to assess how the meta-analyses recognized and addressed non-independence. In general, we observed better performance for criteria related to reporting than for criteria related to execution; however, there was a wide variation among criteria and meta-analyses. Meta-analyses had low compliance with regard to correcting for phylogenetic non-independence, exploring temporal trends in effect sizes, and conducting a multifactorial analysis of moderators (i.e., explanatory variables). In addition, although most meta-analyses included multiple effect sizes per study, only 66% acknowledged some type of non-independence. The types of non-independence reported were most often related to the design of the original experiment (e.g., the use of a shared control) than to other sources (e.g., phylogeny). We suggest that providing specific training and encouraging authors to follow the PRISMA EcoEvo checklist recently developed by O’Dea et al. [2] can improve the quality of ecological meta-analyses.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 12, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Ice-free terrestrial environments of the western Antarctic Peninsula are expanding and subject to colonization by new microorganisms and plants, which control biogeochemical cycling. Measuring growth rates of microbial populations and ecosystem carbon flux is critical for understanding how terrestrial ecosystems in Antarctica will respond to future warming. We implemented a field warming experiment in early (bare soil; +2 °C) and late (peat moss-dominated; +1.2 °C) successional glacier forefield sites on the western Antarctica Peninsula. We used quantitative stable isotope probing with H218O using intact cores in situ to determine growth rate responses of bacterial taxa to short-term (1 month) warming. Warming increased the growth rates of bacterial communities at both sites, even doubling the number of taxa exhibiting significant growth at the early site. Growth responses varied among taxa. Despite that warming induced a similar response for bacterial relative growth rates overall, the warming effect on ecosystem carbon fluxes was stronger at the early successional site—likely driven by increased activity of autotrophs which switched the ecosystem from a carbon source to a carbon sink. At the late-successional site, warming caused a significant increase in growth rate of many Alphaproteobacteria, but a weaker and opposite gross ecosystem productivity response that decreased the carbon sink—indicating that the carbon flux rates were driven more strongly by the plant communities. Such changes to bacterial growth and ecosystem carbon cycling suggest that the terrestrial Antarctic Peninsula can respond fast to increases in temperature, which can have repercussions for long-term elemental cycling and carbon storage.

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  3. Spear, John R. (Ed.)

    Soil carbon stocks in the tundra and underlying permafrost have become increasingly vulnerable to microbial decomposition due to climate change. The microbial responses to Arctic warming must be understood in order to predict the effects of future microbial activity on carbon balance in a warming Arctic.

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  4. Abstract

    High-temperature geothermal springs host simplified microbial communities; however, the activities of individual microorganisms and their roles in the carbon cycle in nature are not well understood. Here, quantitative stable isotope probing (qSIP) was used to track the assimilation of 13C-acetate and 13C-aspartate into DNA in 74 °C sediments in Gongxiaoshe Hot Spring, Tengchong, China. This revealed a community-wide preference for aspartate and a tight coupling between aspartate incorporation into DNA and the proliferation of aspartate utilizers during labeling. Both 13C incorporation into DNA and changes in the abundance of taxa during incubations indicated strong resource partitioning and a significant phylogenetic signal for aspartate incorporation. Of the active amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) identified by qSIP, most could be matched with genomes from Gongxiaoshe Hot Spring or nearby springs with an average nucleotide similarity of 99.4%. Genomes corresponding to aspartate primary utilizers were smaller, near-universally encoded polar amino acid ABC transporters, and had codon preferences indicative of faster growth rates. The most active ASVs assimilating both substrates were not abundant, suggesting an important role for the rare biosphere in the community response to organic carbon addition. The broad incorporation of aspartate into DNA over acetate by the hot spring community may reflect dynamic cycling of cell lysis products in situ or substrates delivered during monsoon rains and may reflect N limitation.

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  5. Abstract

    Predicting ecosystem function is critical to assess and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Quantitative predictions of microbially mediated ecosystem processes are typically uninformed by microbial biodiversity. Yet new tools allow the measurement of taxon-specific traits within natural microbial communities. There is mounting evidence of a phylogenetic signal in these traits, which may support prediction and microbiome management frameworks. We investigated phylogeny-based trait prediction using bacterial growth rates from soil communities in Arctic, boreal, temperate, and tropical ecosystems. Here we show that phylogeny predicts growth rates of soil bacteria, explaining an average of 31%, and up to 58%, of the variation within ecosystems. Despite limited overlap in community composition across these ecosystems, shared nodes in the phylogeny enabled ancestral trait reconstruction and cross-ecosystem predictions. Phylogenetic relationships could explain up to 38% (averaging 14%) of the variation in growth rates across the highly disparate ecosystems studied. Our results suggest that shared evolutionary history contributes to similarity in the relative growth rates of related bacteria in the wild, allowing phylogeny-based predictions to explain a substantial amount of the variation in taxon-specific functional traits, within and across ecosystems.

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  6. Abstract Soils store more carbon than other terrestrial ecosystems 1,2 . How soil organic carbon (SOC) forms and persists remains uncertain 1,3 , which makes it challenging to understand how it will respond to climatic change 3,4 . It has been suggested that soil microorganisms play an important role in SOC formation, preservation and loss 5–7 . Although microorganisms affect the accumulation and loss of soil organic matter through many pathways 4,6,8–11 , microbial carbon use efficiency (CUE) is an integrative metric that can capture the balance of these processes 12,13 . Although CUE has the potential to act as a predictor of variation in SOC storage, the role of CUE in SOC persistence remains unresolved 7,14,15 . Here we examine the relationship between CUE and the preservation of SOC, and interactions with climate, vegetation and edaphic properties, using a combination of global-scale datasets, a microbial-process explicit model, data assimilation, deep learning and meta-analysis. We find that CUE is at least four times as important as other evaluated factors, such as carbon input, decomposition or vertical transport, in determining SOC storage and its spatial variation across the globe. In addition, CUE shows a positive correlation with SOC content. Our findings point to microbial CUE as a major determinant of global SOC storage. Understanding the microbial processes underlying CUE and their environmental dependence may help the prediction of SOC feedback to a changing climate. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 29, 2024
  7. Abstract Background

    Anthropogenic activities have increased the inputs of atmospheric reactive nitrogen (N) into terrestrial ecosystems, affecting soil carbon stability and microbial communities. Previous studies have primarily examined the effects of nitrogen deposition on microbial taxonomy, enzymatic activities, and functional processes. Here, we examined various functional traits of soil microbial communities and how these traits are interrelated in a Mediterranean-type grassland administrated with 14 years of 7 g m−2year−1of N amendment, based on estimated atmospheric N deposition in areas within California, USA, by the end of the twenty-first century.


    Soil microbial communities were significantly altered by N deposition. Consistent with higher aboveground plant biomass and litter, fast-growing bacteria, assessed by abundance-weighted average rRNA operon copy number, were favored in N deposited soils. The relative abundances of genes associated with labile carbon (C) degradation (e.g.,amyAandcda) were also increased. In contrast, the relative abundances of functional genes associated with the degradation of more recalcitrant C (e.g.,mannanaseandchitinase) were either unchanged or decreased. Compared with the ambient control, N deposition significantly reduced network complexity, such as average degree and connectedness. The network for N deposited samples contained only genes associated with C degradation, suggesting that C degradation genes became more intensely connected under N deposition.


    We propose a conceptual model to summarize the mechanisms of how changes in above- and belowground ecosystems by long-term N deposition collectively lead to more soil C accumulation.

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  8. Abstract

    Candidate bacterial phylum Omnitrophota has not been isolated and is poorly understood. We analysed 72 newly sequenced and 349 existing Omnitrophota genomes representing 6 classes and 276 species, along with Earth Microbiome Project data to evaluate habitat, metabolic traits and lifestyles. We applied fluorescence-activated cell sorting and differential size filtration, and showed that most Omnitrophota are ultra-small (~0.2 μm) cells that are found in water, sediments and soils. Omnitrophota genomes in 6 classes are reduced, but maintain major biosynthetic and energy conservation pathways, including acetogenesis (with or without the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway) and diverse respirations. At least 64% of Omnitrophota genomes encode gene clusters typical of bacterial symbionts, suggesting host-associated lifestyles. We repurposed quantitative stable-isotope probing data from soils dominated by andesite, basalt or granite weathering and identified 3 families with high isotope uptake consistent with obligate bacterial predators. We propose that most Omnitrophota inhabit various ecosystems as predators or parasites.

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