Microbial Ecology

, Volume 77, Issue 4, pp 905–912 | Cite as

Experimental Testing of Dispersal Limitation in Soil Bacterial Communities with a Propagule Addition Approach

  • Fen-Guo Zhang
  • Thomas Bell
  • Quan-Guo ZhangEmail author
Environmental Microbiology


The role of dispersal in the assembly of microbial communities remains contentious. This study tested the importance of dispersal limitation for the structuring of local soil bacterial communities using an experimental approach of propagule addition. Microbes extracted from soil pooled from samples collected at 20 localities across ~ 400 km in a temperate steppe were added to microcosms of local soils at three sites; the microcosms were then incubated in situ for 3 months. We then assessed the composition and diversity of bacterial taxa in the soils using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. The addition of the regional microbial pool did not cause significant changes in the overall composition or diversity of the total bacterial community, although a very small number of individual taxa may have been affected by the addition treatment. Our results suggest a negligible role of dispersal limitation in structuring soil bacterial communities in our study area.


Soil bacteria Community assembly Microcosm Regional processes Seed addition 


Funding information

This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31700434, 31725006, and 31670376) and the 111 project (B13008). The 16S rRNA gene sequence data were deposited in the NCBI Sequence Read Archive under accession number SRP057046.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

248_2018_1284_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (457 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 457 kb)
248_2018_1284_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (3.1 mb)
ESM 2 (XLSX 3208 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Life SciencesShanxi Normal UniversityLinfenChina
  2. 2.Department of Life SciencesImperial College LondonAscotUK
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology and MOE Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, College of Life SciencesBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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