Advances in monitoring soil microbial community dynamic and function.


Department of Biology, University of Sudbury, Sudbury, Ontario, P3E 2C6, Canada. [Email]


Microorganisms are vital to the overall ecosystem functioning, stability, and sustainability. Soil fertility and health depend on chemical composition and also on the qualitative and quantitative nature of microorganisms inhabiting it. Historically, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and temperature gradient gel electrophoresis (TGGE), single-strand conformation polymorphism, DNA amplification fingerprinting, amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis, terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism, length heterogeneity PCR, and ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis were used to assess soil microbial community structure (SMCS), abundance, and diversity. However, these methods had significant shortcomings and limitations for application in land reclamation monitoring. SMCS has been primarily determined by phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis. This method provides a direct measure of viable biomass in addition to a biochemical profile of the microbial community. PLFA has limitations such as overlap in the composition of microorganisms and the specificity of PLFAs signature. In recent years, high-throughput next-generation sequencing has dramatically increased the resolution and detectable spectrum of diverse microbial phylotypes from environmental samples and it plays a significant role in microbial ecology studies. Next-generation sequencings using 454, Illumina, SOLiD, and Ion Torrent platforms are rapid and flexible. The two methods, PLFA and next-generation sequencing, are useful in detecting changes in microbial community diversity and structure in different ecosystems. Single-molecule real-time (SMRT) and nanopore sequencing technologies represent third-generation sequencing (TGS) platforms that have been developed to address the shortcomings of second-generation sequencing (SGS). Enzymatic and soil respiration analyses are performed to further determine soil quality and microbial activities. Other valuable methods that are being recently applied to microbial function and structures include NanoSIM, GeoChip, and DNA stable staple isotope probing (DNA-SIP) technologies. They are powerful metagenomics tool for analyzing microbial communities, including their structure, metabolic potential, diversity, and their impact on ecosystem functions. This review is a critical analysis of current methods used in monitoring soil microbial community dynamic and functions.


Environmental monitoring,Measuring microbial function and metabolism,Microbial diversity and structure,Next- and third-generation sequencing,PLFA,Soil microbial community,

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