Environmental micro-niche filtering shapes bacterial pioneer communities during primary colonization of a Himalayas' glacier forefield.

Eleonora Rolli, Ramona Marasco, Marco Fusi, Barbara Scaglia, Florence Schubotz, Francesca Mapelli, Sonia Ciccazzo, Lorenzo Brusetti, Luca Trombino, Fulvia Tambone, Fabrizio Adani, Sara Borin, Daniele Daffonchio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The pedogenesis from the mineral substrate released upon glacier melting has been explained with the succession of consortia of pioneer microorganisms, whose structure and functionality are determined by the environmental conditions developing in the moraine. However, the microbiome variability that can be expected in the environmentally heterogeneous niches occurring in a moraine at a given successional stage is poorly investigated. In a 50 m2 area in the forefield of the Lobuche glacier (Himalayas, 5,050 m a.s.l.), we studied six sites of primary colonization presenting different topographical features (orientation, elevation and slope) and harbouring greyish/dark biological soil crusts (BSCs). The spatial vicinity of the sites opposed to their topographical differences, allowed us to examine the effect of environmental conditions independently from the time of deglaciation. The bacterial microbiome diversity and their co-occurrence network, the bacterial metabolisms predicted from 16S rRNA gene high-throughput sequencing, and the microbiome intact polar lipids were investigated in the BSCs and the underlying sediment deep layers (DLs). Different bacterial microbiomes inhabited the BSCs and the DLs, and their composition varied among sites, indicating a niche-specific role of the micro-environmental conditions in the bacterial communities’ assembly. In the heterogeneous sediments of glacier moraines, physico-chemical and micro-climatic variations at the site-spatial scale are crucial in shaping the microbiome microvariability and structuring the pioneer bacterial communities during pedogenesis.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEnvironmental microbiology
StatePublished - Nov 3 2022

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-11-08
Acknowledgements: This study was carried out within the framework of the Ev-K2-CNR Project in collaboration with the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology as foreseen by the Memorandum of Understanding between Nepal and Italy and with the contributions from the Italian National Research Council and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology supported the study through baseline research funds to DD.ER and SB thank the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement N° 841317, project acronym “SENSE”.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Microbiology


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