Kazuo Isobe*, Yuta Ise, Hiroyu Kato, Tomoki Oda, Christian E. Vincenot, Keisuke Koba, Ryunosuke Tateno, Keishi Senoo, Nobuhito Ohte


We tested the ecosystem functions of microbial diversity with a focus on ammonification (involving diverse microbial taxa) and nitrification (involving only specialized microbial taxa) in forest nitrogen cycling. This study was conducted on a forest slope, in which the soil environment and plant growth gradually changed. We measured the gross and net rates of ammonification and nitrification, the abundance of predicted ammonifiers and nitrifiers, and their community compositions in the soils. The abundance of predicted ammonifiers did not change along the soil environmental gradient, leading to no significant change in the gross ammonification rate. On the other hand, the abundance of nitrifiers and the gross nitrification rate gradually changed. These accordingly determined the spatial distribution of net accumulation of ammonium and nitrate available to plants. The community composition of predicted ammonifiers gradually changed along the slope, implying that diverse ammonifiers were more likely to include taxa that were acclimated to the soil environment and performed ammonification at different slope locations than specialized nitrifiers. Our findings suggest that the abundance of ammonifiers and nitrifiers directly affects the corresponding nitrogen transformation rates, and that their diversity affects the stability of the rates against environmental changes. This study highlights the role of microbial diversity in biogeochemical processes under changing environments and plant growth.

Paper Information

: The ISME Journal