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Exploring the Abundance and Diversity of Bacterial Communities and Quantifying Antibiotic-Related Genes Along an Elevational Gradient in Taibai Mountain, China

Peng, Chu, Wang, He, Jiang, Yingying, Yang, Jinhua, Lai, Hangxian, Wei, Xiaomin
Microbial ecology 2018 v.76 no.4 pp. 1053-1062
Actinobacteria, antibiotics, bacterial communities, climate, community structure, forest soils, gene dosage, genes, mountains, nitrate nitrogen, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, ribosomal RNA, soil bacteria, soil organic matter, species diversity, topographic slope, urban soils, vegetation, China
Thus far, no studies have investigated the soil microbial diversity over an elevational gradient in Taibai Mountain, the central massif of the Qinling Mountain Range. Here, we used Illumina sequencing and quantitative PCR of the 16S rRNA gene to assess the diversity and abundance of bacterial communities along an elevational gradient in representative vegetation soils in Taibai Mountain. We identified the soil, climate, and vegetation factors driving the variations in soil bacterial community structure by Pearson correlation and redundancy analysis. We also evaluated the potential for antibiotic discovery by quantitative PCR of the PKS-I, PKS-II, and NRPS genes from Actinobacteria. The results showed that soil bacterial alpha diversity increased first and then decreased with an elevational rise in both the northern and southern slopes of Taibai Mountain. The bacterial abundance was significantly correlated with soil organic matter and nitrate nitrogen. The average relative abundance of Actinobacteria in Taibai Mountain was markedly higher than those in other mountain forest soils. The absolute abundance of PKS and NPRS gene was significantly higher in the tested soils compared with the gene copy numbers reported in tropical urban soils. Taibai Mountain is rich in actinomycete resources and has great potential for antibiotic excavation.