Atmospheric trace gases, such as H2 and CO, are important energy sources for microbial growth and maintenance in various ecosystems, especially in arid deserts with little organic substrate. Nonetheless, the impact of soil organic C availability on microbial trace gas oxidation and the underlying mechanisms are unclear at the community level. This study investigated the energy and life-history strategies of soil microbiomes along an organic C gradient inside and out of Hedysarum scoparium islands dispersed in the Mu Us Desert, China. Metagenomic analysis showed that with increasing organic C availability from bare areas into “fertile islands”, the abundance of trace gas oxidizers (TGOs) decreased, but that of trace gas nonoxidizers (TGNOs) increased. The variation in their abundance was more related to labile/soluble organic C levels than to stable/insoluble organic C levels. The consumption rates of H2 and CO confirmed that organic C addition, especially soluble organic C addition, inhibited microbial trace gas oxidation. Moreover, microorganisms with distinct energy-acquiring strategies showed different life-history traits. The TGOs had lower 16 S rRNA operon copy numbers, lower predicted maximum growth rates and higher proportions of labile C degradation genes, implying the prevalence of oligotrophs. In contrast, copiotrophs were prevalent in the TGNOs. These results revealed a mechanism for the microbial community to adapt to the highly heterogeneous distribution of C resources by adjusting the abundances of taxa with distinct energy and life-history strategies, which would further affect trace gas consumption and C turnover in desert ecosystems.
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The high-throughput sequencing dataset and metagenomic sequencing dataset are available in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Sequence Read Archive (SRA) database with accession number PRJNA859390 and PRJNA909948.
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This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation Regional Innovation and Development Joint Fund (U21A201208) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (41830755 and 31870476). We thank Yao Liu and Guoqiang Li for statistical analysis procedure, Haoran Sun for technical support. We additionally thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Li, S., Yang, S., Wei, X. et al. Reduced trace gas oxidizers as a response to organic carbon availability linked to oligotrophs in desert fertile islands. ISME J 17, 1257–1266 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41396-023-01437-6