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Toward an ecological classification of soil bacteria

Fierer, N, MA Bradford, RB Jackson
Journal Volume/Pages: 
88: 1354-1364

Although researchers have begun cataloging the incredible diversity of bacteria found in soil, we are largely unable to interpret this information in an ecological context, including which groups of bacteria are most abundant in different soils and why. With this study, we examined how the abundances of major soil bacterial phyla correspond to the biotic and abiotic characteristics of the soil environment to determine if they can be divided into ecologically-meaningful categories. To do this, we collected 71 unique soil samples from a wide range of ecosystems across North America and looked for relationships between soil properties and the relative abundances of six dominant bacterial phyla (Acidobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, a-Proteobacteria, and the b-Proteobacteria). Of the soil properties measured, net carbon (C) mineralization rate (an index of C availability) was the best predictor of phylum-level abundances. There was a negative correlation between Acidobacteria abundance and C mineralization rates (r2=0.26, P

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