Journal article

Habitat conditions and not moss composition mediate microbial community structure in Swiss peatlands


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  • 2024
Published in:
  • Environmental Microbiology. - Chichester, UK : Wiley. - 2024, vol. 26, no. 5, p. 1-16
English Peatlands, one of the oldest ecosystems, globally store significant amounts of carbon and freshwater. However, they are under severe threat from human activities, leading to changes in water, nutrient and temperature regimes in these delicate systems. Such shifts can trigger a substantial carbon flux into the atmosphere and diminish the water-holding capacity of peatlands. Microbes associated with moss in peatlands play a crucial role in providing these ecosystem services, which are at risk due to global change. Therefore, understanding the factors influencing microbial composition and function is vital. Our study focused on five peatlands along an altitudinal gradient in Switzerland, where we sampled moss on hummocks containing Sarracenia purpurea. Structural equation modelling revealed that habitat condition was the primary predictor of community structure and directly influenced other environmental variables. Interestingly, the microbial composition was not linked to the local moss species identity. Instead, microbial communities varied significantly between sites due to differences in acidity levels and nitrogen availability. This finding was also mirrored in a co-occurrence network analysis, which displayed a distinct distribution of indicator species for acidity and nitrogen availability. Therefore, peatland conservation should take into account the critical habitat characteristics of moss-associated microbial communities.
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Département de Biologie
  • English
Biological sciences
Open access status
Persistent URL

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