Microbiome transplants have the potential to disrupt agriculture and medicine by transferring the microbial genetic pool (and hence capabilities) from one host to another. Yet, for this technology to become reality, we need to understand the drivers shaping the success of microbiome transplant. We highlight here recent findings by Dr. Gaofei Jiang and colleagues. Using disease suppression as a model function, they highlight the microbiome characteristics making a successful transplant possible. We see this study is a seminal work making microbiome transplant an informed process that will replace the current error-prone trial procedures. We anticipate that the insights may catalyse a paradigm shift in microbiome management in agriculture and medicine.
• Volcanic inputs and grazing impact the distribution of microbes in Serengeti soil. • Soil texture and phosphorus are important environmental filters structuring soil microbes. • Herbivores impact microbial communities via environmental filtering not stochastic dispersal.
• Volcanic inputs and grazing impact the distribution of microbes in Serengeti soil.
• Soil texture and phosphorus are important environmental filters structuring soil microbes.
• Herbivores impact microbial communities via environmental filtering not stochastic dispersal.
As one of the last remaining naturally grazed ecosystems on Earth, the Serengeti National Park is an ideal location to study the influence of migratory mammals on the structure of microbial communities and the factors that generate biogeography of soil microbes. Furthermore, volcanic inputs generate environmental gradients that may also structure microbial communities. We studied 16S rRNA amplicons in a 13-year herbivore removal experiment to examine the influence of grazing and environmental gradients on the natural distribution of soil microbes. Removal of mammalian herbivores shifted microbial community structure, with 31 taxa that were significant indicator taxa of the ungrazed treatment and three taxa that were indicators of the grazed treatment. The abundance of many taxa were correlated with soil texture, phosphorus, iron, calcium and rainfall, and the evenness of taxa within samples was also correlated with these variables. Bayesian general linear mixed effects models with single predictors of multiple, highly correlated variables of beta diversity were consistent with a significant, but weak (2%), effect of grazing, and stronger effects of phosphorus (14%). Beta diversity of microbial communities was greater in grazed than in ungrazed plots; suggesting that the impacts of grazing on community assembly of microbes results from deterministic environmental filtering caused by the influence of herbivores on plant communities and soil properties rather than stochastic dispersal via herds of large mammals. These herbivore effects are superimposed on deterministic environmental filtering by natural soil and precipitation gradients across the Serengeti.