ThingLink Soil Microbiology Technical Summary


As environments globally become subjected to urban infrastructure, the biodiversity of flora and fauna have visibly plummeted, yet microbes are often overlooked. To see if urbanization has any effects on soil microbial diversity, researchers in Beijing studied microbial samples from the Forbidden City and the surrounding 5 ring roads. These ring roads were each constructed during different periods of time, following mass urbanization starting from 1970, and serve as a temporal gradient for comparing microbial samples. The further out from the Forbidden City a ring road is, the more recently it was built. Soil samples were taken across a transect from the forbidden city out into the surrounding ring roads and the 16s rRNA genes were sequenced. Alpha and beta diversity tests showed that samples from outer and inner roads displayed the highest diversity values. This observation rejected the idea that diversity levels could be explained by an urbanization age based gradient but it was found that acidity may partially explain the variance values of the microbial samples. Overall, their major findings were that variances in diversity can only partially be explained by urbanization and pH, leaving most of the variation related to the unexplained complexity of urban environments.

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