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Response of soil bacterial communities to moisture and grazing in the Tibetan alpine steppes on a small spatial scale

Zhao, Qingzhou, Niu, Haishan, Wang, Yanfen, Cui, Xiaoyong, Li, Yaoming, Yu, Zhisheng
Geomicrobiology journal 2019 v.36 no.6 pp. 559-569
alpine grasslands, arid zones, dominant species, grazing intensity, habitats, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, livestock, microbial communities, soil bacteria, species richness, steppes, water content, China
As the Third Pole of the world, the Tibetan Plateau provides a typical alpine grassland environment for soil bacteria with its unique frigid and arid climate. Owing to clear changes in spatial moisture and increased grazing intensity, moisture and livestock grazing have become key factors influencing the microbial communities. Accordingly, we investigated the diversity and composition of soil bacteria in a selected alpine grassland within the dual gradients of moisture and grazing using high-throughput sequencing. Our results showed that grazing changed the soil bacterial diversity and composition, whereas moisture only influenced the relative abundance of the segmental community at the small spatial scale. Species richness was found to be increased by moderate grazing compared with that by high or low-grazing intensity. The relative abundance of dominant species and β-diversity of soil bacteria both showed differences with heavy, moderate, and low grazing. Some dominant bacteria were altered with the moisture content. However, there were no significant differences according to the moisture gradient in terms of the overall bacterial β diversity and composition. These results might be taken account into the small spatial scale as well as the compensation of grazing to moisture on this scale. This work provides new insights into the soil bacterial response to moisture gradients and grazing intensity in alpine steppe habitat.