Considering the extensive functional redundancy in microbial communities and great difficulty in elucidating it based on taxonomic structure, studies on the biogeography of soil microbial activity at large spatial scale are as important as microbial community structure. Eighty-four soil samples were collected across a region from south to north China (about 1,000 km) to address the questions if microbial activity displays biogeographic patterns and what are driving forces. These samples represented different soil types, land use and climate. Redundancy analysis and nonmetric multidimensional scaling clearly revealed that soil microbial activities showed distinct differentiation at different sites over a regional spatial scale, which were strongly affected by soil pH, total P, rainfall, temperature, soil type and location. In addition, microbial community structure was greatly influenced by rainfall, location, temperature, soil pH and soil type and was correlated with microbial activity to some extent. Our results suggest that microbial activities display a clear geographic pattern that is greatly altered by geographic distance and reflected by climate, soil pH and total P over large spatial scales. There are common (distance, climate, pH and soil type) but differentiated aspects (TP, SOC and N) in the biogeography of soil microbial community structure and activity.
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Cao, H., Chen, R., Wang, L., Jiang, L., Yang, F., Zheng, S., Wang, G., & Lin, X. (2016). Soil pH, total phosphorus, climate and distance are the major factors influencing microbial activity at a regional spatial scale. Scientific Reports, 6, . https://doi.org/10.1038/srep25815