Uncoupling of microbial community structure and function in decomposing litter across beech forest ecosystems in Central Europe

Witoon Purahong, Michael Schloter, Marek J. Pecyna, Danuta Kapturska, Veronika Däumlich, Sanchit Mital, François Buscot, Martin Hofrichter, Jessica L.M. Gutknecht, Dirk Krüger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The widespread paradigm in ecology that community structure determines function has recently been challenged by the high complexity of microbial communities. Here, we investigate the patterns of and connections between microbial community structure and microbially-mediated ecological function across different forest management practices and temporal changes in leaf litter across beech forest ecosystems in Central Europe. Our results clearly indicate distinct pattern of microbial community structure in response to forest management and time. However, those patterns were not reflected when potential enzymatic activities of microbes were measured. We postulate that in our forest ecosystems, a disconnect between microbial community structure and function may be present due to differences between the drivers of microbial growth and those of microbial function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7014
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Nov 12 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded in part by DFG Priority Program 1374 on ‘Infrastructure-Biodiversity-Exploratories’ (KR 3587/1-1, KR 3587/3-2, SCHL 446/13-2, HO 1961/4-1, HO 1961/5-2). W. Purahong and D. Kapturska also were kindly supported by the Helmholtz Impulse and Networking Fund via the Helmholtz Interdisciplinary Graduate School for Environmental Research (HIGRADE). The funders DFG and HIGRADE had no input into the study design, the data collection and analysis, the decision to publish, or the preparation of the manuscript. We thank the managers of the three exploratories, Swen Renner, Sonja Gockel, Kerstin Wiesner, and Martin Gorke for their work in maintaining the plot and project infrastructure; Simone Pfeiffer and Christiane Fischer for giving support through the central office, Michael Owonibi for managing the central data base, and Markus Fischer, Eduard Linsenmair, Dominik Hessenmöller, Jens Nieschulze, Daniel Prati, Ingo Schöning, Ernst-Detlef Schulze, Wolfgang W. Weisser and the late Elisabeth Kalko for their role in setting up the Biodiversity Exploratories project.


Dive into the research topics of 'Uncoupling of microbial community structure and function in decomposing litter across beech forest ecosystems in Central Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this