Microbial model systems are very useful in addressing macro-ecological questions. Two major theories exist to date, to explain the community structure of organisms: (1) the dispersal (neutral) assembly theory which predicts that community similarity decreases with increasing geographic distance, independent of any environmental variables, and (2) the niche assembly theory which predicts that the communities’ compositions are more homogeneous among sites characterized by similar environmental conditions. Our study system offered a unique opportunity to investigate the relative role of environmental conditions and spatial factors in shaping community composition. We explored the bacterial community composition (BCC) of Nicotiana glauca floral nectar using the Illumina MiSeq technique at three spatial scales (plants, site, and region) and two taxonomic levels. Floral nectar samples were collected from 69 N. glauca plants at 11 different sites along a 200-km transect in Israel, along three biogeographic regions. A distance decay of BCC was found among all plants throughout Israel, but such pattern was not found among either sites or biogeographical regions. The BCC was also governed by environmental conditions in all examined scales (from the plant up to the biogeographical region). We also found that taxonomic resolution (89 and 97% sequence identity for clustering operational taxonomic units) affected the results of these BCC analyses. Hence, our study revealed that the BCC in N. glauca floral nectar is shaped by both the environmental conditions and the distance between plants, depending on the sampling scale under examination as well as by taxonomic resolution.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and Adi Halpern for her assistance in generating the figures. This study was supported by grants from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF, grants no. 189/08, 1094/12, and 296/16).
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media New York.
- Bacterial community composition
- Flower nectar
- MiSeq technique
- Nicotiana glauca
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Soil Science