The Evolution of Ecological Diversity in Acidobacteria.

Sikorski, Johannes; Baumgartner, Vanessa; Birkhofer, Klaus; Boeddinghaus, Runa S; Bunk, Boyke; Fischer, Markus; Fösel, Bärbel U; Friedrich, Michael W; Göker, Markus; Hölzel, Norbert; Huang, Sixing; Huber, Katharina J; Kandeler, Ellen; Klaus, Valentin H; Kleinebecker, Till; Marhan, Sven; von Mering, Christian; Oelmann, Yvonne; Prati, Daniel; Regan, Kathleen M; ... (2022). The Evolution of Ecological Diversity in Acidobacteria. Frontiers in Microbiology, 13, p. 715637. Frontiers 10.3389/fmicb.2022.715637

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Acidobacteria occur in a large variety of ecosystems worldwide and are particularly abundant and highly diverse in soils. In spite of their diversity, only few species have been characterized to date which makes Acidobacteria one of the most poorly understood phyla among the domain Bacteria. We used a culture-independent niche modeling approach to elucidate ecological adaptations and their evolution for 4,154 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) of Acidobacteria across 150 different, comprehensively characterized grassland soils in Germany. Using the relative abundances of their 16S rRNA gene transcripts, the responses of active OTUs along gradients of 41 environmental variables were modeled using hierarchical logistic regression (HOF), which allowed to determine values for optimum activity for each variable (niche optima). By linking 16S rRNA transcripts to the phylogeny of full 16S rRNA gene sequences, we could trace the evolution of the different ecological adaptations during the diversification of Acidobacteria. This approach revealed a pronounced ecological diversification even among acidobacterial sister clades. Although the evolution of habitat adaptation was mainly cladogenic, it was disrupted by recurrent events of convergent evolution that resulted in frequent habitat switching within individual clades. Our findings indicate that the high diversity of soil acidobacterial communities is largely sustained by differential habitat adaptation even at the level of closely related species. A comparison of niche optima of individual OTUs with the phenotypic properties of their cultivated representatives showed that our niche modeling approach (1) correctly predicts those physiological properties that have been determined for cultivated species of Acidobacteria but (2) also provides ample information on ecological adaptations that cannot be inferred from standard taxonomic descriptions of bacterial isolates. These novel information on specific adaptations of not-yet-cultivated Acidobacteria can therefore guide future cultivation trials and likely will increase their cultivation success.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Fischer, Markus, Prati, Daniel, Schmitt, Barbara


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)








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Date Deposited:

22 Feb 2022 10:16

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:10

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Uncontrolled Keywords:

16S rRNA gene transcripts Acidobacteria adaptation ecological diversity evolution optimum niche modeling physiological traits




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