Protist species richness and soil microbiome complexity increase towards climax vegetation in the Brazilian Cerrado

Ademir Sergio Ferreira de Araujo*, Lucas William Mendes, Leandro Nascimento Lemos, Jadson Emanuel Lopes Antunes, Jose Evando Aguiar Beserra, Maria do Carmo Catanho Pereira de Lyra, Marcia do Vale Barreto Figueiredo, Ângela Celis de Almeida Lopes, Regina Lucia Ferreira Gomes, Walderly Melgaço Bezerra, Vania Maria Maciel Melo, Fabio Fernando de Araujo, Stefan Geisen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Biodiversity underlies ecosystem functioning. While aboveground biodiversity is often well studied, the belowground microbiome, in particular protists, remains largely unknown. Indeed, holistic insights into soil microbiome structures in natural soils, especially in hyperdiverse biomes such as the Brazilian Cerrado, remain unexplored. Here, we study the soil microbiome across four major vegetation zones of the Cerrado, ranging from grass-dominated to tree-dominated vegetation with a focus on protists. We show that protist taxon richness increases towards the tree-dominated climax vegetation. Early successional habitats consisting of primary grass vegetation host most potential plant pathogens and least animal parasites. Using network analyses combining protist with prokaryotic and fungal sequences, we show that microbiome complexity increases towards climax vegetation. Together, this suggests that protists are key microbiome components and that vegetation succession towards climax vegetation is stimulated by higher loads of animal and plant pathogens. At the same time, an increase in microbiome complexity towards climax vegetation might enhance system stability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135
JournalCommunications Biology
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Protist species richness and soil microbiome complexity increase towards climax vegetation in the Brazilian Cerrado'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this