A Metagenomic Perspective on Changes to Nutrient-cycling Genes Following Forest-to-agriculture Conversion in the Amazon Basin

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Kyle Matthew Meyer1, Ann M Womack1, Jorge Rodrigues2, Klaus Nüsslein3 and Brendan J M Bohannan1, (1)University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, United States, (2)University of California Davis, Davis, CA, United States, (3)University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, United States
Forest-to-agriculture conversion has been shown to alter nutrient cycling and the community composition of soil microorganisms. However, few studies have looked simultaneously at how the abundance, composition, and diversity of microbial genes involved in nutrient cycling change with conversion. We used shotgun metagenomic sequencing to analyze soil from primary rainforest and converted cattle pasture sampled at the Fazenda Nova Vida in Rondônia, Brazil. The diversity, richness, and evenness of nutrient cycling genes were significantly higher in the pasture, and the composition of nutrient cycling communities differed significantly between land use types. These results largely mirror taxonomic shifts following Amazon rainforest conversion, which tends to increase diversity, richness, and evenness of soil microbial communities. The abundance of genes related to N cycling and methane flux differed between land use types. Methanotrophy genes decreased in abundance in the pasture, whereas methanogenesis genes were not significantly different between land use types. These changes could underlie the commonly observed shift from methane sink to source following forest-to-agriculture conversion. Multiple genes in the nitrogen cycle also differed with land use, including genes related to N-fixation and ammonification. Metagenomics provides a unique perspective on the consequences of land use change on microbial community structure and function.