Metagenomic insights into soil microbial communities involved in carbon cycling along an elevation climosequences

Zhongmin Dai, Huadong Zang, Jie Chen, Yingyi Fu, Xuehua Wang, Huaiting Liu, Congcong Shen, Jianjun Wang, Yakov Kuzyakov, Joscha N. Becker, Andreas Hemp, Albert Barberán, Anna Gunina, Huaihai Chen, Yu Luo, Jianming Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Diversity and community composition of soil microorganisms along the elevation climosequences have been widely studied, while the microbial metabolic potential, particularly in regard to carbon (C) cycling, remains unclear. Here, a metagenomic analysis of C related genes along five elevations ranging from 767 to 4190 m at Mount Kilimanjaro was analysed to evaluate the microbial organic C transformation capacities in various ecosystems. The highest gene abundances for decomposition of moderate mineralizable compounds, i.e. carbohydrate esters, chitin and pectin were found at the mid-elevations with hump-shaped pattern, where the genes for decompositions of recalcitrant C (i.e. lignin) and easily mineralizable C (i.e. starch) showed the opposite trend (i.e. U-shaped pattern), due to high soil pH and seasonality in both low and high elevations. Notably, the gene abundances for the decompositions of starch, carbohydrate esters, chitin and lignin had positive relationships with corresponding C compounds, indicating the consistent responses of microbial functional profiles and metabolites to elevation climosequences. Understanding of adaptation of microbial communities, potential function and metabolites to elevation climosequences and their influencing factors provided a new insight for the regulation of terrestrial C storage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4631-4645
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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