Biogeographical patterns and mechanisms of microbial community assembly that underlie successional biocrusts across northern China.


Li Y(1)(2), Hu C(3).
Author information:
(1)Key Laboratory of Algal Biology, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China.
(2)University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
(3)Key Laboratory of Algal Biology, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China. [Email]


Biocrusts play critical eco-functions in many drylands, however it is challenging to explore their community assembly, particularly within patched successional types and across climate zones. Here, different successional biocrusts (alga, lichen, and moss-dominated biocrusts) were collected across the northern China, and assembly of biocrust microbial communities was investigated by high-throughput sequencing combined with measurements of soil properties and microclimate environments. Bacterial and eukaryotic communities showed that the maximum and minimum community variation occurred across longitude and latitude, respectively. In the regions where all three stages of biocrusts were involved, the highest community difference existed between successional stages, and decreased with distance. The community assembly was generally driven by dispersal limitation, although neutral processes have controlled the eukaryotic community assembly in hyperarid areas. Along the succession, bacterial community had no obvious patterns, but eukaryotic community showed increasing homogeneity, with increased species sorting and decreased dispersal limitation for community assembly. Compared to early successional biocrusts, there were higher microbial mutual exclusions and more complex networks at later stages, with distinct topological features. Correlation analysis further indicated that the balance between deterministic and stochastic processes might be mediated by aridity, salinity, and total phosphorus, although the mediations were opposite for bacteria and eukaryotes.