Evolutionary history constrains microbial traits across environmental variation

Ember M. Morrissey, Rebecca L. Mau, Michaela Hayer, Xiao Jun Allen Liu, Egbert Schwartz, Paul Dijkstra, Benjamin J. Koch, Kara Allen, Steven J. Blazewicz, Kirsten Hofmockel, Jennifer Pett-Ridge, Bruce A Hungate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Organisms influence ecosystems, from element cycling to disturbance regimes, to trophic interactions and to energy partitioning. Microorganisms are part of this influence, and understanding their ecology in nature requires studying the traits of these organisms quantitatively in their natural habitats—a challenging task, but one which new approaches now make possible. Here, we show that growth rate and carbon assimilation rate of soil microorganisms are influenced more by evolutionary history than by climate, even across a broad climatic gradient spanning major temperate life zones, from mixed conifer forest to high-desert grassland. Most of the explained variation (~50% to ~90%) in growth rate and carbon assimilation rate was attributable to differences among taxonomic groups, indicating a strong influence of evolutionary history, and taxonomic groupings were more predictive for organisms responding to resource addition. With added carbon and nitrogen substrates, differences among taxonomic groups explained approximately eightfold more variance in growth rate than did differences in ecosystem type. Taxon-specific growth and carbon assimilation rates were highly intercorrelated across the four ecosystems, constrained by the taxonomic identity of the organisms, such that plasticity driven by environment was limited across ecosystems varying in temperature, precipitation and dominant vegetation. Taken together, our results suggest that, similar to multicellular life, the traits of prokaryotes in their natural habitats are constrained by evolutionary history to a greater degree than environmental variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1064-1069
Number of pages6
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Volume3
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

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history
ecosystems
carbon
organisms
ecosystem
trophic interaction
prokaryote
soil microorganism
prokaryotic cells
mixed forests
soil microorganisms
coniferous forests
coniferous tree
plasticity
deserts
partitioning
desert
microorganism
grasslands
grassland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

Cite this

Evolutionary history constrains microbial traits across environmental variation. / Morrissey, Ember M.; Mau, Rebecca L.; Hayer, Michaela; Liu, Xiao Jun Allen; Schwartz, Egbert; Dijkstra, Paul; Koch, Benjamin J.; Allen, Kara; Blazewicz, Steven J.; Hofmockel, Kirsten; Pett-Ridge, Jennifer; Hungate, Bruce A.

In: Nature Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 3, No. 7, 01.07.2019, p. 1064-1069.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Morrissey, EM, Mau, RL, Hayer, M, Liu, XJA, Schwartz, E, Dijkstra, P, Koch, BJ, Allen, K, Blazewicz, SJ, Hofmockel, K, Pett-Ridge, J & Hungate, BA 2019, 'Evolutionary history constrains microbial traits across environmental variation', Nature Ecology and Evolution, vol. 3, no. 7, pp. 1064-1069. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-019-0918-y
Morrissey, Ember M. ; Mau, Rebecca L. ; Hayer, Michaela ; Liu, Xiao Jun Allen ; Schwartz, Egbert ; Dijkstra, Paul ; Koch, Benjamin J. ; Allen, Kara ; Blazewicz, Steven J. ; Hofmockel, Kirsten ; Pett-Ridge, Jennifer ; Hungate, Bruce A. / Evolutionary history constrains microbial traits across environmental variation. In: Nature Ecology and Evolution. 2019 ; Vol. 3, No. 7. pp. 1064-1069.
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