Associations between human impacts and forest soil microbial communities

Yongjian Chen, Jialiang Kuang, Pandeng Wang, Wensheng Shu, Albert Barberán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We are living in a new epoch—the Anthropocene, in which human activity is reshaping global biodiversity at an unprecedented rate. Increasing efforts are being made toward a better understanding of the associations between human activity and the geographic patterns in plant and animal communities. However, similar efforts are rarely applied to microbial communities. Here, we collected 472 forest soil samples across eastern China, and the bacterial and fungal communities in those samples were determined by high-throughput sequencing of 16S rRNA gene and internal transcribed spacer region, respectively. By compiling human impact variables as well as climate and soil variables, our goal was to elucidate the association between microbial richness and human activity when climate and soil variables are taken into account. We found that soil microbial richness was associated with human activity. Specifically, human population density was positively associated with the richness of bacteria, nitrifying bacteria and fungal plant pathogens, but it was negatively associated with the richness of cellulolytic bacteria and ectomycorrhizal fungi. Together, these results suggest that the associations between geographic variations of soil microbial richness and human activity still persist when climate and soil variables are taken into account and that these associations vary among different microbial taxonomic and functional groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Anthropocene
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Geographic pattern
  • Human activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology
  • Atmospheric Science


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