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Spatial vs. temporal controls over soil fungal community similarity at continental and global scales

The ISME Journal (2019) | Download Citation


Large-scale environmental sequencing efforts have transformed our understanding of the spatial controls over soil microbial community composition and turnover. Yet, our knowledge of temporal controls is comparatively limited. This is a major uncertainty in microbial ecology, as there is increasing evidence that microbial community composition is important for predicting microbial community function in the future. Here, we use continental- and global-scale soil fungal community surveys, focused within northern temperate latitudes, to estimate the relative contribution of time and space to soil fungal community turnover. We detected large intra-annual temporal differences in soil fungal community similarity, where fungal communities differed most among seasons, equivalent to the community turnover observed over thousands of kilometers in space. inter-annual community turnover was comparatively smaller than intra-annual turnover. Certain environmental covariates, particularly climate covariates, explained some spatial–temporal effects, though it is unlikely the same mechanisms drive spatial vs. temporal turnover. However, these commonly measured environmental covariates could not fully explain relationships between space, time and community composition. These baseline estimates of fungal community turnover in time provide a starting point to estimate the potential duration of legacies in microbial community composition and function.

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Colin Averill was supported by the NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, administered by Cooperative Programs for the Advancement of Earth System Science (CPAESS), University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), Boulder, Colorado, USA, as well as NSF Macrosystems Biology #1638577. Michael Dietze was supported by NSF Macrosystems Biology #1318164 and #1638577. LeAnna Cates was supported by the Boston University Bioinformatics BRITE Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program. Jennifer Bhatnagar was supported by NSF Macrosystems Biology #1638577.

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  1. Department of Biology, Boston University, 5 Cummington Mall, Boston, MA, USA

    • Colin Averill
    •  & Jennifer M. Bhatnagar
  2. Department of Earth & Environment, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA

    • Colin Averill
    •  & Michael C. Dietze
  3. Department of Biology, University of Missouri—Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, USA

    • LeAnna L. Cates


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Correspondence to Colin Averill.

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