Pedosphere 29(1): 12--23, 2019
ISSN 1002-0160/CN 32-1315/P
©2019 Soil Science Society of China
Published by Elsevier B.V. and Science Press
Soil Metagenome of Tropical White Sand Heath Forests in Borneo: What Functional Traits Are Associated with an Extreme Environment Within the Tropical Rainforest?
Dorsaf KERFAHI1, Binu M. TRIPATHI2, Johan W. Ferry SLIK3, Rahayu S. SUKRI3, Salwana JAAFAR3, Ke DONG4, Matthew Chidozie OGWU1, Hyo-Ki KIM5, Jonathan M. ADAMS6
1Department of Biological Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826(Republic of Korea);
2Korea Polar Research Institute, 26 Songdomirae-ro, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon 21990(Republic of Korea);
3Faculty of Science, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Gadong BE1410(Brunei Darussalam);
4College of Natural Sciences, Kyonggi University, Seoul 443-760(Republic of Korea);
5Celemics Inc. 612 Avison Biomedical Research Center, Yonsei Medical Center, Seoul 120-752(Republic of Korea);
6Division of Agrifood and Environment, School of Water, Energy and Environment Building 52 a, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL(UK)
      White sand heath forests (WS) or kerangas, an unusual variant of tropical forests in Borneo, characterized by open scrubby vegetation, low productivity, and distinctive plant species composition and soil microbial community, are regarded as a stressful lowpH and/or nutrient environment. We investigated whether the functional soil metagenome also shows a predicted set of indicators of stressful conditions in WS. Based on stress-tolerant strategies exhibited by larger organisms, we hypothesized that genes for stress tolerance, dormancy, sporulation, and nutrient processing are more abundant in the soil microbiota of WS. We also hypothesized that there is less evidence of biotic interaction in white sand soils, with lower connectivity and fewer genes related to organismic interactions. In Brunei, we sampled soils from a WS and a normal primary dipterocarp forest, together with an inland heath, an intermediate forest type. Soil DNA was extracted, and shotgun sequencing was performed using Illumina HiSeq platform, with classification by the Metagenomics Rapid Annotation using Subsystem Technology (MG-RAST). The results, on one hand, supported our hypothesis (on greater abundance of dormancy, virulence, and sporulation-related genes). However, some aspects of our results showed no significant difference (specifically in stress tolerance, antibiotic resistance, viruses, and clustered regularly interspaced short palindrome repeats (CRISPRs)). It appears that in certain respects, the extreme white sand environment produces the predicted strategy of less biotic interaction, but exhibits high soil microbiota connectivity and functional diversity.
Key Words:  antibiotic resistance,biotic interaction,kerangas,microbial community,microbiota,shotgun metagenomics,stress tolerance,tropical forest
Citation: Kerfahi D, Tripathi B M, Slik J W F, Sukri R S, Jaafar S, Dong K, Ogwu M C, Kim H-K, Adams J M. 2019. Soil metagenome of tropical white sand heath forests in Borneo:What functional traits are associated with an extreme environment within the tropical rainforest? Pedosphere. 29(1):12-23.
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