Soils are among the most biodiverse habitats on earth and while the species composition of microbial communities can influence decomposition rates and pathways, the functional significance of many microbial species and phylogenetic groups remains unknown. If bacteria exhibit phylogenetic organization in their function, this could enable ecologically meaningful classification of bacterial clades. Here, we show non-random phylogenetic organization in the rates of relative carbon assimilation for both rapidly mineralized substrates (amino acids and glucose) assimilated by many microbial taxa and slowly mineralized substrates (lipids and cellulose) assimilated by relatively few microbial taxa. When mapped onto bacterial phylogeny using ancestral character estimation this phylogenetic organization enabled the identification of clades involved in the decomposition of specific soil organic matter substrates. Phylogenetic organization in substrate assimilation could provide a basis for predicting the functional attributes of uncharacterized microbial taxa and understanding the significance of microbial community composition for soil organic matter decomposition.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics