Metaphenomic response of a native prairie soil microbiome to moisture perturbations

TitleMetaphenomic response of a native prairie soil microbiome to moisture perturbations
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsChowdhury, TRoy, Lee, J-Y, Bottos, EM, Brislawn, CJ, White, RAllen, Bramer, LM, Brown, J, Zucker, JD, Kim, Y-M, Jumpponen, A, Rice, CW, Fansler, SJ, Metz, TO, McCue, LAnn, Callister, SJ, Song, H-S, Jansson, JK
Secondary AuthorsHallam, SJ
Keywordsmetaphenome, metatranscriptome, multi-omics, soil microbiome

Climate change is causing shifts in precipitation patterns in the central grasslands of the United States, with largely unknown consequences on the collective physiological responses of the soil microbial community, i.e., the metaphenome. Here, we used an untargeted omics approach to determine the soil microbial community’s metaphenomic response to soil moisture and to define specific metabolic signatures of the response. Specifically, we aimed to develop the technical approaches and metabolic mapping framework necessary for future systematic ecological studies. We collected soil from three locations at the Konza Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) field station in Kansas, and the soils were incubated for 15 days under dry or wet conditions and compared to field-moist controls. The microbiome response to wetting or drying was determined by 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, metatranscriptomics, and metabolomics, and the resulting shifts in taxa, gene expression, and metabolites were assessed. Soil drying resulted in significant shifts in both the composition and function of the soil microbiome. In contrast, there were few changes following wetting. The combined metabolic and metatranscriptomic data were used to generate reaction networks to determine the metaphenomic response to soil moisture transitions. Site location was a strong determinant of the response of the soil microbiome to moisture perturbations. However, some specific metabolic pathways changed consistently across sites, including an increase in pathways and metabolites for production of sugars and other osmolytes as a response to drying. Using this approach, we demonstrate that despite the high complexity of the soil habitat, it is possible to generate insight into the effect of environmental change on the soil microbiome and its physiology and functions, thus laying the groundwork for future, targeted studies.