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Microbial secondary succession in soil microcosms of a desert oasis in the Cuatro Cienegas Basin, Mexico

Nguyen E Lopez-Lozano, Karla B Heidelberg, William C Nelson, Felipe García-Oliva,

Luis E Eguiarte, Valeria Souza


Ecological succession is one of the most important concepts in ecology. However for microbial community succession, there is a lack of a solid theoretical framework regarding succession in microorganisms. This is in part due to microbial community complexity and plasticity but also because little is known about temporal patterns of microbial community shifts in different kinds of ecosystems, including arid soils. The Cuatro Cienegas Basin (CCB) in Coahuila, Mexico, is an arid zone with high diversity and endemisms that has recently been threatened by aquifer overexploitation. The gypsum-based soil system of the CCB is one of the most oligotrophic places in the world. We undertook a comparative 16S rRNA 454 pyrosequencing study to evaluate microbial community succession and recovery over a year after disturbance at two sites. Results were related to concurrent measurements of humidity, organic matter and total C and N content. While each site differed in both biogeochemistry and biodiversity, both present similar pattern of change at the beginning of the succession that diverged in later stages. After one year, experimentally disturbed soil was not similar to established and undisturbed adjacent soil communities indicating recovery and succession in disturbed soils is a long process.


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