Tree size drives diversity and community structure of microbial communities on the bark of beech (Fagus sylvatica)

  • Tree bark constitutes ideal habitat for microbial communities, because it is a stable substrate, rich in micro-niches. Bacteria, fungi, and terrestrial microalgae together form microbial communities, which in turn support more bark-associated organisms, such as mosses, lichens, and invertebrates, thus contributing to forest biodiversity. We have a limited understanding of the diversity and biotic interactions of the bark-associated microbiome, as investigations have mainly focussed on agriculturally relevant systems and on single taxonomic groups. Here we implemented a multi-kingdom metabarcoding approach to analyse diversity and community structure of the green algal, bacterial, and fungal components of the bark-associated microbial communities of beech, the most common broadleaved tree of Central European forests. We identified the most abundant taxa, hub taxa, and co-occurring taxa. We found that tree size (as a proxy for age) is an important driver of community assembly, suggesting that environmental filtering leads to less diverse fungal and algal communities over time. Conversely, forest management intensity had negligible effects on microbial communities on bark. Our study suggests the presence of undescribed, yet ecologically meaningful taxa, especially in the fungi, and highlights the importance of bark surfaces as a reservoir of microbial diversity. Our results constitute a first, essential step towards an integrated framework for understanding microbial community assembly processes on bark surfaces, an understudied habitat and neglected component of terrestrial biodiversity. Finally, we propose a cost-effective sampling strategy to study bark-associated microbial communities across large spatial or environmental scales.

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Author:Lukas DreylingORCiD, Imke SchmittORCiDGND, Francesco Dal GrandeORCiD
Parent Title (English):bioRxiv
Document Type:Preprint
Date of Publication (online):2022/01/21
Date of first Publication:2022/01/21
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2023/04/20
Page Number:33
Institutes:Angeschlossene und kooperierende Institutionen / Senckenbergische Naturforschende Gesellschaft
Biowissenschaften / Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY-NC - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell 4.0 International