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DNA-SIP Reveals the Diversity of Chemolithoautotrophic Bacteria Inhabiting Three Different Soil Types in Typical Karst Rocky Desertification Ecosystems in Southwest China

Li, Baoqin, Li, Zhe, Sun, Xiaoxu, Wang, Qi, Xiao, Enzong, Sun, Weimin
Microbial ecology 2018 v.76 no.4 pp. 976-990
Acinetobacter, Brevibacterium, Corynebacterium, Ochrobactrum, Ralstonia, autotrophic bacteria, carbon cycle, desertification, ecological function, ecosystems, forests, grasses, heterotrophs, inorganic carbon, karsts, microbial communities, nitrates, organic compounds, sediments, soil biota, soil habitats, soil types, thiosulfates, China
Autotrophs that inhabit soils receive less attention than their counterparts in other ecosystems, such as deep-sea and subsurface sediments, due to the low abundance of autotrophs in soils with high organic contents. However, the karst rocky desertification region is a unique ecosystem that may have a low level of organic compounds. Therefore, we propose that karst rocky desertification ecosystems may harbor diverse autotrophic microbial communities. In this study, DNA-SIP was employed to identify the chemolithoautotrophic bacteria inhabiting three soil types (i.e., grass, forest, and agriculture) of the karst rocky desertification ecosystems. The results indicated that potential chemolithoautotrophic population was observed in each soil type, even at different time points after amending ¹³C-NaHCO₃, confirming our hypothesis that diverse autotrophs contribute to the carbon cycle in karst soils. Bacteria, such as Ralstonia, Ochrobactrum, Brevibacterium, Acinetobacter, and Corynebacterium, demonstrated their potential to assimilate inorganic carbon and reduce nitrate or thiosulfate as electron acceptors. Putative mixotrophs were identified by DNA-SIP as well, suggesting the metabolic versatility of soil microbiota. A co-occurrence network further indicated that autotrophs and heterotrophs may form associated communities to sustain the ecosystem function. Our current study revealed the metabolic diversity of autotrophic bacteria in soil habitats and demonstrated the potentially important role of chemoautotrophs in karst rocky desertification ecosystems.