Due to the polyextreme environmental conditions occurring in (hyper)arid deserts, macroorganisms are rare and their distribution decreases with aridity. Consequently, nutrients cycles are considered to be mainly driven by the activity of edaphic and lithic microbial communities. However, while microbial diversity has been extensively studied in desert soils, their function, i.e., the specific role(s) of these communities in biogeochemical cycling, remains understudied. To achieve this it is necessary to study the metabolic pathways used by the microorganisms to incorporate, transform and use the different nutrients available in desert soils and atmosphere. Consequently, we use shotgun metagenomes from soils with contrasting aridity (and therefore plant cover) to study the evolution of microbially-mediated functions with aridity, especially nitrogen cycling due to its importance in plant growth, organic matter decomposition and the productivity of desert ecosystems.
- Edaphic communities
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile