Microbial Ecology

, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 135–145 | Cite as

Altitudinal Distribution Patterns of Soil Bacterial and Archaeal Communities Along Mt. Shegyla on the Tibetan Plateau

  • Jun-Tao Wang
  • Peng Cao
  • Hang-Wei Hu
  • Jing Li
  • Li-Li Han
  • Li-Mei Zhang
  • Yuan-Ming Zheng
  • Ji-Zheng HeEmail author
Soil Microbiology


Unraveling the distribution patterns of plants and animals along the elevational gradients has been attracting growing scientific interests of ecologists, whether the microbial communities exhibit similar elevational patterns, however, remains largely less documented. Here, we investigate the biogeographic distribution of soil archaeal and bacterial communities across three vertical climate zones (3,106–4,479 m.a.s.l.) in Mt. Shegyla on the Tibetan Plateau, by combining quantitative PCR and high-throughput barcoded pyrosequencing approaches. Our results found that the ratio of bacterial to archaeal 16S rRNA gene abundance was negatively related with elevation. Acidobacteria dominated in the bacterial communities, Marine benthic group A dominated in the archaeal communities, and the relative abundance of both taxa changed significantly with elevation. At the taxonomic levels of domain, phylum, and class, more bacterial taxa than archaeal exhibited declining trend in diversity along the increasing elevational gradient, as revealed by Shannon and Faith’s phylogenetic diversity indices. Unweighted UniFrac distance clustering showed that the bacterial communities from the mountainous temperate zone clustered together, whereas those from the subalpine cool temperate zone clustered together. However, the partitioning effect of elevational zones on the archaeal community was much weaker compared to that on bacteria. Redundancy analysis revealed that soil geochemical factors explained 58.3 % of the bacterial community variance and 75.4 % of the archaeal community variance. Taken together, we provide evidence that soil bacteria exhibited more apparent elevational zonation feature and decreased diversity pattern than archaea with increasing elevation, and distribution patterns of soil microbes are strongly regulated by soil properties along elevational gradient in this plateau montane ecosystem.


Soil Organic Carbon Tibetan Plateau Archaea Elevational Gradient Archaeal Community 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was financially supported by grants from National Science Foundation of China (41230857, 41025004), MOST (2013CB956300), and STSN-21-02. We gratefully acknowledge Drs Mu Wang and Xi Zha from Agricultural and Animal Husbandry College of Tibet for their assistance in soil sampling.

Supplementary material

248_2014_465_MOESM1_ESM.doc (98 kb)
Table S1 Spearman’s correlation analysis on environmental variable and diversity index of Shannon (a) and Faith PD (b) (DOC 98 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jun-Tao Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peng Cao
    • 1
  • Hang-Wei Hu
    • 3
  • Jing Li
    • 1
  • Li-Li Han
    • 1
  • Li-Mei Zhang
    • 1
  • Yuan-Ming Zheng
    • 1
  • Ji-Zheng He
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Melbourne School of Land and Environmentthe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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