It is elemental: soil nutrient stoichiometry drives bacterial diversity

Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo, Peter B. Reich, Amit N. Khachane, Colin D. Campbell, Nadine Thomas, Thomas E. Freitag, Waleed Abu Al-Soud, Søren Sørensen, Richard D. Bardgett, Brajesh K. Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

207 Scopus citations


It is well established that resource quantity and elemental stoichiometry play major roles in shaping below and aboveground plant biodiversity, but their importance for shaping microbial diversity in soil remains unclear. Here, we used statistical modeling on a regional database covering 179 locations and six ecosystem types across Scotland to evaluate the roles of total carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) availabilities and ratios, together with land use, climate and biotic and abiotic factors, in determining regional scale patterns of soil bacterial diversity. We found that bacterial diversity and composition were primarily driven by variation in soil resource stoichiometry (total C:N:P ratios), itself linked to different land uses, and secondarily driven by other important biodiversity drivers such as climate, soil spatial heterogeneity, soil pH, root influence (plant-soil microbe interactions) and microbial biomass (soil microbe-microbe interactions). In aggregate, these findings provide evidence that nutrient stoichiometry is a strong predictor of bacterial diversity and composition at a regional scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1176-1188
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


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