The mechanisms underlying community assembly and promoting temporal succession are often overlooked in microbial ecology. Here, we studied an undisturbed salt marsh chronosequence, spanning over a century of ecosystem development, to understand bacterial succession in soil. We used 16S rRNA gene-based quantitative PCR to determine bacterial abundance and multitag 454 pyrosequencing for community composition and diversity analyses. Despite 10-fold lower 16S rRNA gene abundances, the initial stages of soil development held higher phylogenetic diversities than the soil at late succession. Temporal variations in phylogenetic β-diversity were greater at initial stages of soil development, possibly as a result of the great dynamism imposed by the daily influence of the tide, promoting high immigration rates. Allogenic succession of bacterial communities was mostly driven by shifts in the soil physical structure, as well as variations in pH and salinity, which collectively explained 84.5% of the variation concerning community assemblage. The community assembly data for each successional stage were integrated into a network co-occurrence analysis, revealing higher complexity at initial stages, coinciding with great dynamism in turnover and environmental variability. Contrary to a spatial niche-based perspective of bacterial community assembly, we suggest temporal niche partitioning as the dominant mechanism of assembly (promoting more phylotype co-occurrence) in the initial stages of succession, where continuous environmental change results in the existence of multiple niches over short periods of time.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics