This study evaluated the effect that tree species traits and wet/dry periods display on soil microbial communities in a tropical dry forest in Puerto Rico. Understanding the ecological role of soil microorganisms in tropical dry forests and how they relate to different tree species is necessary to protect these fragile forest ecosystems. Thus, by using 454 pyrosequencing, we explored how microbial diversity was affected by dominant tree species during the wettest and driest periods at the Guánica Dry Forest. We found that 9 out of 17 phyla were more abundant during the dry period demonstrating that soil communities have adapted to historically low rainfall patterns. The most abundant phyla during both periods were Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Bacteroidetes. During the dry period, Actinobacteria increased significantly (p < 0.0001), whereas Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes decreased significantly (p < 0.0001; p < 0.001). Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) also demonstrated that soil microbes are shaped by wet and dry periods, thus axis 1 of CCA explained 80% of the variation. This study offers baseline information in order to help elucidate how microbial diversity is affected by climate change in tropical areas and extrapolate this information to agricultural areas in order to develop better management practices.
Part of the book: Microorganisms