Soil bacterial diversity in the Arctic is not fundamentally different from that found in other biomes

Haiyan Chu, Noah Fierer, Christian L. Lauber, James G Caporaso, Rob Knight, Paul Grogan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

343 Scopus citations


The severe environmental stresses of the Arctic may have promoted unique soil bacterial communities compared with those found in lower latitude environments. Here, we present a comprehensive analysis of the biogeography of soil bacterial communities in the Arctic using a high resolution bar-coded pyrosequencing technique. We also compared arctic soils with soils from a wide range of more temperate biomes to characterize variability in soil bacterial communities across the globe. We show that arctic soil bacterial community composition and diversity are structured according to local variation in soil pH rather than geographical proximity to neighboring sites, suggesting that local environmental heterogeneity is far more important than dispersal limitation in determining community-level differences. Furthermore, bacterial community composition had similar levels of variability, richness and phylogenetic diversity within arctic soils as across soils from a wide range of lower latitudes, strongly suggesting a common diversity structure within soil bacterial communities around the globe. These results contrast with the well-established latitudinal gradients in animal and plant diversity, suggesting that the controls on bacterial community distributions are fundamentally different from those observed for macro-organisms and that our biome definitions are not useful for predicting variability in soil bacterial communities across the globe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2998-3006
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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