The total microbiome functions in bacteria and fungi.


Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology, Institute of Microbiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Praha, Czech Republic. Electronic address: [Email]


Unveiling the relationship between phylogeny and function of the microbiome is crucial to determine its contribution to ecosystem functioning. However, while there is a considerable amount of information on microbial phylogenetic diversity, our understanding of its relationship to functional diversity is still scarce. Here we predicted the total microbiome functions of bacteria and fungi on Earth using the total known functions from level 3 of KEGG Orthology by modelling the increase of functions with increasing diversity of bacteria or fungi. For bacteria and fungi, the unsaturated model described the data significantly better (for both P <2.2e-16), suggesting the presence of two types of functions. Widespread functions ubiquitous in every living organism that make up two thirds of our current knowledge of microbiome functions are separated from rare functions from specialised enzymes present in only a few species. Given previous estimates on species richness, we predicted a global total of 35.5 million functions in bacteria and 3.2 million in fungi; of which only 0.02% and 0.14% are known today. Our approach highlights the necessity of novel and more sophisticated methods to unveil the entirety of rare functions to fully understand the involvement of the microbiome in ecosystem functioning. SIGNIFICANCE: The functionality of and within a microbial community is generally inferred based on the taxonomic annotation of the organism. However, our understanding of functional diversity and how it relates to taxonomy is still limited. Here we predict the total microbiome functionality in bacteria and fungi on Earth using known and annotated protein-coding sequences in species accumulation curves. Our estimates reveal that the majority of functionality (>99%) could be assigned to yet unknown and rare functions, highlighting that our current knowledge is incomplete and functional inference is thus lackluster.


Bacteria,Functional diversity,Fungi,Microbiome functions,Protein-coding sequences,

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