Unravelling the interplay of ecological processes structuring the bacterial rare biosphere

Xiu Jia*, Francisco Dini-Andreote, Joana Falcão Salles*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Most ecological communities harbor many rare species (i.e., the rare biosphere), however, relatively little is known about how distinct ecological processes structure their existence. Here, we used spatiotemporal data on soil bacterial communities along a natural ecosystem gradient to model the relative influences of assembly processes structuring the rare and common biospheres. We found a greater influence of homogeneous selection (i.e., imposed by spatiotemporally constant variables) mediating the assembly of the rare biosphere, whereas the common biosphere was mostly governed by variable selection (i.e., imposed by spatial and/or temporal fluctuating variables). By partitioning the different types of rarity, we found homogeneous selection to explain the prevalence of permanently rare taxa, thus suggesting their persistence at low abundances to be restrained by physiological traits. Conversely, the dynamics of conditionally rare taxa were mostly structured by variable selection, which aligns with the ability of these taxa to switch between rarity and commonness as responses to environmental spatiotemporal variations. Taken together, our study contributes to the establishment of a link between conceptual and empirical developments in the ecology of the soil microbial rare biosphere. Besides, this study provides a framework to better understand, model, and predict the existence and dynamics of microbial rare biospheres across divergent systems and scales.
Original languageEnglish
Article number96
Number of pages12
JournalISME Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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