Data from: Life in leaf litter: novel insights into community dynamics of bacteria and fungi during litter decomposition
Purahong, Witoon et al. (2016), Data from: Life in leaf litter: novel insights into community dynamics of bacteria and fungi during litter decomposition, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.q1q10
Microorganisms play a crucial role in the biological decomposition of plant litter in terrestrial ecosystems. Due to the permanently changing litter quality during decomposition, studies of both fungi and bacteria at a fine taxonomic resolution are required during the whole process. Here we investigated microbial community succession in decomposing leaf litter of temperate beech forest using pyrotag sequencing of the bacterial 16S and the fungal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) rRNA genes. Our results reveal that both communities underwent rapid changes. Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes dominated over the entire study period, but their taxonomic composition and abundances changed markedly among sampling dates. The fungal community also changed dynamically as decomposition progressed, with ascomycete fungi being increasingly replaced by basidiomycetes. We found a consistent and highly significant correlation between bacterial richness and fungal richness (R = 0.76, P < 0.001) and community structure (RMantel = 0.85, P < 0.001), providing evidence of coupled dynamics in the fungal and bacterial communities. A network analysis highlighted nonrandom co-occurrences among bacterial and fungal taxa as well as a shift in the cross-kingdom co-occurrence pattern of their communities from the early to the later stages of decomposition. During this process, macronutrients, micronutrients, C:N ratio and pH were significantly correlated with the fungal and bacterial communities, while bacterial richness positively correlated with three hydrolytic enzymes important for C, N and P acquisition. Overall, we provide evidence that the complex litter decay is the result of a dynamic cross-kingdom functional succession.