University of Oulu

Viitamäki, S., Pessi, I. S., Virkkala, A.-M., Niittynen, P., Kemppinen, J., Eronen-Rasimus, E., Luoto, M., & Hultman, J. (2022). The activity and functions of soil microbial communities in the Finnish sub-Arctic vary across vegetation types. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 98(8), fiac079.

The activity and functions of soil microbial communities in the Finnish sub-Arctic vary across vegetation types

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Author: Viitamäki, Sirja1; Pessi, Igor S.1,2; Virkkala, Anna-Maria3,4;
Organizations: 1Department of Microbiology, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Geosciences and Geography, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
4Woodwell Climate Research Center, MA, 02540-1644, USA
5Geography Research Unit, 90014 University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6Marine Research Centre, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), 00790, Helsinki, Finland
7Soil Ecosystems Group, Natural Resources Institute Finland, 00790 Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 4.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Oxford University Press, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-02-22


Due to climate change, increased microbial activity in high-latitude soils may lead to higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, microbial GHG production and consumption mechanisms in tundra soils are not thoroughly understood. To investigate how the diversity and functional potential of bacterial and archaeal communities vary across vegetation types and soil layers, we analyzed 116 soil metatranscriptomes from 73 sites in the Finnish sub-Arctic. Meadow soils were characterized by higher pH and lower soil organic matter (SOM) and carbon/nitrogen ratio. By contrast, dwarf shrub-dominated ecosystems had higher SOM and lower pH. Although Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria and Planctomycetes were dominant in all communities, there were significant differences at the genus level between vegetation types; plant polymer-degrading groups were more active in shrub-dominated soils than in meadows. Given that climate-change scenarios predict the expansion of shrubs at high latitudes, our results indicate that tundra soil microbial communities harbor potential decomposers of increased plant litter, which may affect the rate of carbon turnover in tundra soils. Additionally, transcripts of methanotrophs were detected in the mineral layer of all soils, which may moderate methane fluxes. This study provides new insights into possible shifts in tundra microbial diversity and activity due to climate change.

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Series: FEMS microbiology ecology
ISSN: 0168-6496
ISSN-E: 1574-6941
ISSN-L: 0168-6496
Volume: 98
Issue: 8
Article number: fiac079
DOI: 10.1093/femsec/fiac079
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1171 Geosciences
Funding: The study was funded by the Academy of Finland (Grant no. 1314114) and the University of Helsinki's three-year grant to JH. SV was funded by the Doctoral Program in Microbiology and Biotechnology (MBDP). PN was funded by Kone Foundation and Nessling Foundation. JK was funded by the Arctic Interactions at the University of Oulu and Academy of Finland (Grant no. 318930, Profi 4). AMV acknowledges the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (Grant 8414).
Dataset Reference: Sequences were deposited in the European Nucleotide Archive under accession number PRJEB45463.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2022. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.