Contrasting Responses of Protistan Plant Parasites and Phagotrophs to Ecosystems, Land Management and Soil Properties

Front Microbiol. 2020 Aug 5;11:1823. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.01823. eCollection 2020.


Functional traits are increasingly used in ecology to link the structure of microbial communities to ecosystem processes. We investigated two important protistan lineages, Cercozoa and Endomyxa (Rhizaria) in soil using Illumina sequencing and analyzed their diversity and functional traits along with their responses to environmental factors in grassland and forest across Germany. From 600 soil samples, we obtained 2,101 Operational Taxonomic Units representing ∼18 million Illumina reads (region V4, 18S rRNA gene). All major taxonomic and functional groups were present, dominated by small bacterivorous flagellates (Glissomonadida). Endomyxan plant parasites were absent from forests. In grassland, Cercozoa and Endomyxa were promoted by more intensive land use management. Grassland and forest strikingly differed in community composition. Relative abundances of bacterivores and eukaryvores were inversely influenced by environmental factors. These patterns provide new insights into the functional organization of soil biota and indications for a more sustainable land-use management.

Keywords: Cercozoa; Endomyxa; Rhizaria; biogeography; functional traits; protistan plant pathogens; soil protists; trophic guilds.