Climate warming leads to divergent succession of grassland microbial communities

Xue Guo, Jiajie Feng, Zhou Shi, Xishu Zhou, Mengting Yuan, Xuanyu Tao, Lauren Hale, Tong Yuan, Jianjun Wang, Yujia Qin, Aifen Zhou, Ying Fu, Liyou Wu, Zhili He, Joy D. Van Nostrand, Daliang Ning, Xueduan Liu, Yiqi Luo, James M. Tiedje, Yunfeng YangJizhong Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

244 Scopus citations


Accurate climate projections require an understanding of the effects of warming on ecological communities and the underlying mechanisms that drive them1–3. However, little is known about the effects of climate warming on the succession of microbial communities4,5. Here we examined the temporal succession of soil microbes in a long-term climate change experiment at a tall-grass prairie ecosystem. Experimental warming was found to significantly alter the community structure of bacteria and fungi. By determining the time-decay relationships and the paired differences of microbial communities under warming and ambient conditions, experimental warming was shown to lead to increasingly divergent succession of the soil microbial communities, with possibly higher impacts on fungi than bacteria. Variation partition- and null model-based analyses indicate that stochastic processes played larger roles than deterministic ones in explaining microbial community taxonomic and phylogenetic compositions. However, in warmed soils, the relative importance of stochastic processes decreased over time, indicating a potential deterministic environmental filtering elicited by warming. Although successional trajectories of microbial communities are difficult to predict under future climate change scenarios, their composition and structure are projected to be less variable due to warming-driven selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)813-818
Number of pages6
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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