The biogeography of relative abundance of soil fungi versus bacteria in surface topsoil

Kailiang Yu (Corresponding author), Johan van den Hoogen, Z. Wang, C. Averill, D. Routh, Gabriel Reuben Smith, R. E. Drenovsky, K. M. Scow, F. Mo, M. P. Waldrop, Yuanhe Yang, W. Tang, F. T. De Vries, R. D. Bardgett, P. Manning, F. Bastida, S. G. Baer, E. M. Bach, C. García, Qingkui WangL. Ma, B. Chen, X. He, S. Teurlincx, Amber Heijboer, J. A. Bradley, T. W. Crowther* (Corresponding author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Fungi and bacteria are the two dominant groups of soil microbial communities worldwide. By controlling the turnover of soil organic matter, these organisms directly regulate the cycling of carbon between the soil and the atmosphere. Fundamental differences in the physiology and life history of bacteria and fungi suggest that variation in the biogeography of relative abundance of soil fungi versus bacteria could drive striking differences in carbon decomposition and soil organic matter formation between different biomes. However, a lack of global and predictive information on the distribution of these organisms in terrestrial ecosystems has prevented the inclusion of relative abundance of soil fungi versus bacteria and the associated processes in global biogeochemical models. Here, we used a global-scale dataset of >3000 distinct observations of abundance of soil fungi versus bacteria in the surface topsoil (up to 15 cm) to generate the first quantitative and high-spatial-resolution (1 km2) explicit map of soil fungal proportion, defined as fungi/fungi + bacteria, across terrestrial ecosystems. We reveal striking latitudinal trends where fungal dominance increases in cold and high-latitude environments with large soil carbon stocks. There was a strong nonlinear response of fungal dominance to the environmental gradient, i.e., mean annual temperature (MAT) and net primary productivity (NPP). Fungi dominated in regions with low MAT and NPP and bacteria dominated in regions with high MAT and NPP, thus representing slow vs. fast soil energy channels, respectively, a concept with a long history in soil ecology. These high-resolution models provide the first steps towards representing the major soil microbial groups and their functional differences in global biogeochemical models to improve predictions of soil organic matter turnover under current and future climate scenarios. Raw datasets and global maps generated in this study are available at 10.6084/m9.figshare.19556419 (Yu, 2022).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4339-4350
Number of pages12
JournalEarth System Science Data
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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