Warming and disturbance alter soil microbiome diversity and function in a northern forest ecotone

Michael E. van Nuland, Dylan P. Smith, Jennifer M. Bhatnagar, Artur Stefanski, Sarah E. Hobbie, Peter B. Reich, Kabir G. Peay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The response to global change by soil microbes is set to affect important ecosystem processes. These impacts could be most immediate in transitional zones, such as the temperate-boreal forest ecotone, yet previous work in these forests has primarily focused on specific subsets of microbial taxa. Here, we examined how bacterial and fungal communities respond to simulated above- and below-ground warming under realistic field conditions in closed and open canopy treatments in Minnesota, USA. Our results show that warming and canopy disturbance shifted bacterial and fungal community structure as dominant bacterial and fungal groups differed in the direction and intensity of their responses. Ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungal communities with greater connectivity (higher prevalence of strongly interconnected taxa based on pairwise co-occurrence relationships) were more resistant to compositional change. Warming effects on soil enzymes involved in the hydrolytic and oxidative liberation of carbon from plant cell walls and nutrients from organic matter were most strongly linked to fungal community responses, although community structure–function relationships differed between fungal guilds. Collectively, these findings indicate that warming and disturbance will influence the composition and function of microbial communities in the temperate-boreal ecotone, and fungal responses are particularly important to understand for predicting future ecosystem functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberfiaa108
JournalFEMS microbiology ecology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the US Department of Energy Biological and Environmental Research program Award DESC0016097 to KGP, and as the B4WarmED project by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, and Office of Biological and Environmental Research award number DE-FG02–07ER64456; Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station MN-42–030 and MN-42–060; the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources Sciences and Wilderness Research Foundation, University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
©C FEMS 2020. All rights reserved


  • Bacteria
  • Disturbance
  • Ectomycorrhizal fungi
  • Enzyme activity
  • Global change
  • Saprotrophic fungi
  • Soil microbiome
  • Temperate-boreal forest ecotone
  • Warming

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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