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Spatiotemporal patterns of microbial composition and diversity in precipitation

Abstract : Microbes in the atmosphere have broad ecological impacts, including the potential to trigger precipitation through species and strains that act as ice nucleation particles. To characterize spatiotemporal trends of microbial assemblages in precipitation we sequenced 16S (bacterial) and 18S (fungal) rRNA gene amplicon libraries collected from 72 precipitation events in three US states (Idaho, Louisiana, and Virginia) over four seasons. We considered these data from the perspective of a novel metacommunity framework. In agreement with our heuristic, we found evidence for distinct mechanisms underlying the composition and diversity of bacterial and fungal assemblages in precipitation. Specifically, we determined that: 1) bacterial operational taxonomic unit (OTU) composition of precipitation was strongly associated with macroscale drivers including season and high altitude characteristics of storms; 2) fungal OTU composition was strongly correlated with mesoscale drivers including particular spatial locations; 3) β‐diversity (heterogeneity of taxa among samples) for both bacteria and fungi was largely maintained by turnover of taxa; however, 4) bacterial assemblages had higher contributions to total β‐diversity from nestedness (i.e., lower richness assemblages were largely taxonomic subsets of richer assemblages), due to losses of taxa during dispersal, particularly among potential ice nucleation active bacteria; and 5) fungal assemblages had higher contributions to total β‐diversity from turnover due to OTU replacement. Spatiotemporal trends in precipitation‐borne metacommunities allowed delineation of a large number of statistically significant indicator taxa for particular sites and seasons, including trends for bacteria that are potentially ice nucleation active. Our findings advance understanding regarding the dispersion of aerosolized microbes via wet deposition, and the development of theory concerning potential assembly rules for bioaerosol assemblages.
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Ken A. Aho, C.F. Weber, Brent C. Christner, Boris A. Vinatzer, Cindy E. Morris, et al.. Spatiotemporal patterns of microbial composition and diversity in precipitation. Ecological monographs, Ecological Society of America, 2020, 90 (1), ⟨10.1002/ecm.1394⟩. ⟨hal-02626506⟩

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