Soil as an extended composite phenotype of the microbial metagenome

Neal, A. L., Bacq-Labreuil, A., Zhang, X., Clark, I. M., Coleman, K., Mooney, S. J., Ritz, K. and Crawford, J. W. (2020) Soil as an extended composite phenotype of the microbial metagenome. Scientific Reports, 10, 10649. (doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-67631-0) (PMID:32606383) (PMCID:PMC7327058)

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We use a unique set of terrestrial experiments to demonstrate how soil management practises result in emergence of distinct associations between physical structure and biological functions. These associations have a significant effect on the flux, resilience and efficiency of nutrient delivery to plants (including water). Physical structure, determining the air–water balance in soil as well as transport rates, is influenced by nutrient and physical interventions. Contrasting emergent soil structures exert selective pressures upon the microbiome metagenome. These selective pressures are associated with the quality of organic carbon inputs, the prevalence of anaerobic microsites and delivery of nutrients to microorganisms attached to soil surfaces. This variety results in distinctive gene assemblages characterising each state. The nature of the interactions provide evidence that soil behaves as an extended composite phenotype of the resident microbiome, responsive to the input and turnover of plant-derived organic carbon. We provide new evidence supporting the theory that soil-microbe systems are self-organising states with organic carbon acting as a critical determining parameter. This perspective leads us to propose carbon flux, rather than soil organic carbon content as the critical factor in soil systems, and we present evidence to support this view.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was supported by the United Kingdom’s Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC)-funded Soil to Nutrition strategic program (BBS/E/C/000I0310) and jointly by the Natural Environment Research Council and BBSRC as part of the Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems research program (NE/N018125/1 LTS-M). Access to the Highfield Ley-Arable experiment is supported by the UK’s Long-Term Experiment National Capability funded by BBSRC (BBS/E/C/000J0300).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Crawford, Professor John
Authors: Neal, A. L., Bacq-Labreuil, A., Zhang, X., Clark, I. M., Coleman, K., Mooney, S. J., Ritz, K., and Crawford, J. W.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Scientific Reports
Publisher:Nature Research
ISSN (Online):2045-2322
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Scientific Reports 10: 10649
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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