It is elemental: soil nutrient stoichiometry drives bacterial diversity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo
  • Peter B. Reich
  • Amit N. Khachane
  • Colin Campbell
  • Nadine Thomas
  • Thomas E. Freitag
  • Waleed Abu Al-Soud
  • Soren Sorensen
  • Brajesh K. Singh


It is well established that resource quantity and elemental stoichiometry play major roles in shaping below and aboveground plant biodiversity, but their importance for shaping microbial diversity in soil remains unclear. Here, we used statistical modeling on a regional database covering 179 locations and six ecosystem types across Scotland to evaluate the roles of total carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) availabilities and ratios, together with land use, climate and biotic and abiotic factors, in determining regional scale patterns of soil bacterial diversity. We found that bacterial diversity and composition were primarily driven by variation in soil resource stoichiometry (total C:N:P ratios), itself linked to different land uses, and secondarily driven by other important biodiversity drivers such as climate, soil spatial heterogeneity, soil pH, root influence (plant-soil microbe interactions) and microbial biomass (soil microbe-microbe interactions). In aggregate, these findings provide evidence that nutrient stoichiometry is a strong predictor of bacterial diversity and composition at a regional scale.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1176-1188
JournalEnvironmental microbiology
Early online date3 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

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