Soil microbial communities are abundant, hyper-diverse and mediate global biogeochemical cycles, but we do not yet understand the processes mediating their assembly. Current hypothetical frameworks suggest temporal (e.g. dispersal limitation) and environmental (e.g. soil pH) filters shape microbial community composition; however, there is limited empirical evidence supporting this framework in the hyper-diverse soil environment, particularly at large spatial (i.e. regional to continental) and temporal (i.e. 100 to 1000 years) scales. Here, we present evidence from a long-term chronosequence (4000 years) that temporal and environmental filters do indeed shape soil bacterial community composition. Furthermore, nearly 20 years of environmental monitoring allowed us to control for potentially confounding environmental variation. Soil bacterial communities were phylogenetically distinct across the chronosequence. We determined that temporal and environmental factors accounted for significant portions of bacterial phylogenetic structure using distance-based linear models. Environmental factors together accounted for the majority of phylogenetic structure, namely, soil temperature (19%), pH (17%) and litter carbon:nitrogen (C:N; 17%). However, of all individual factors, time since deglaciation accounted for the greatest proportion of bacterial phylogenetic structure (20%). Taken together, our results provide empirical evidence that temporal and environmental filters act together to structure soil bacterial communities across large spatial and long-term temporal scales. © 2015 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Journal: Environmental microbiology