Bacterial colonisation: From airborne dispersal to integration within the soil community

The deposition of airborne microorganisms into new ecosystems is the first stage of colonisation. However, how and under what circumstances deposited microorganisms might successfully colonise a new environment is still unclear. Using the Arctic snowpack as a model system, we investigated the colonisation potential of snow-derived bacteria deposited onto Arctic soils during and after snowmelt using laboratory-based microcosm experiments to mimic realistic environmental conditions. We tested different melting rate scenarios to evaluate the influence of increased precipitation as well as the influence of soil pH on the composition of bacterial communities and on the colonisation potential. We observed several candidate colonisations in all experiments; with a higher number of potentially successful colonisations in acidoneutral soils, at the average snowmelt rate measured in the Arctic. While the higher melt rate increased the total number of potentially invading bacteria, it did not promote colonisation (snow ASVs identified in the soil across multiple sampling days and still present on the last day). Instead, most potential colonists were not identified by the end of the experiments. On the other hand, soil pH appeared as a determinant factor impacting invasion and subsequent colonisation. In acidic and alkaline soils, bacterial persistence with time was lower than in acidoneutral soils, as was the number of potentially successful colonisations. This study demonstrated the occurrence of potentially successful colonisations of soil by invading bacteria. It suggests that local soil properties might have a greater influence on the colonisation outcome than increased precipitation or ecosystem disturbance.


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Authors: Malard, Lucie A., Pearce, David A. ORCIDORCID record for David A. Pearce

On this site: David Pearce
9 May, 2022
Frontiers in Microbiology / 13
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