Functional Redundancy of Soil Microbiota – Does More Always Mean Better?

Jarosław Grządziel


The proper and healthy functioning of the soil depends largely on the microorganisms abundance, including the total number of bacteria and fungi, but also their diversity. The increase in the biodiversity also increases the functional capabilities of the ecosystem but from a certain point, a further increase in the biodiversity does not bring any new features, so the general biochemical and metabolic profile of the ecosystem remains constant. It is also suggested that the loss of one or more species does not dramatically affect the functioning of the ecosystem, because the same functions can be represented by many different species. This phenomenon is called a functional redundancy and makes the soil a very stable environment with a high buffering capabilities, more often called the "soil memory". On the other hand, some unique biochemical processes are characteristic for a small group of species, for example, nitrogen fixation or toxic compounds degradation. The loss of the specialized species may lead to the decrease of a rare genes occurrence in the soil, resulting in the loss of nutrients or the accumulation of toxins. This article presents the current findings on functional redundancy in terms of soil microorganisms and its implications to the soil functioning.


functional redundancy, soil microbiota, soil memory, biodiversity

Full Text:



Attard, E., Poly, F., Commeaux, C., et al., 2010. Shifts between Nitrospira- and Nitrobacter-like nitrite oxidizers underlie the response of soil potential nitrite oxidation to changes in tillage practices. Environmental Microbiology, 12,2: 315–326.

Banerjee, S., Kirkby, C.A., Schmutter, D., et al., 2016. Network analysis reveals functional redundancy and keystone taxa amongst bacterial and fungal communities during organic matter decomposition in an arable soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 97: 188–198.

Dejonghe, W., Berteloot, E., Goris, J., et al., 2003. Synergistic degradation of linuron by a bacterial consortium and isolation of a single linuron-degrading Variovorax strain. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 69, 3: 1532–1541.

Girvan, M.S., Campbell, C.D., Killham, K., et al., 2005. Bacterial diversity promotes community stability and functional resilience after perturbation. Environmental Microbiology, 7,3: 301–313.

Griffiths, B.S., Ritz, K., Bardgett, R.D., et al., 2000. Ecosystem response of pasture soil communities to fumigation-induced microbial diversity reductions: an examination of the biodiversity-ecosystem function relationship. Oikos, 90, 2: 279–294.

Horemans, B., Bers, K., Romero, E.R., et al., 2016. Functional Redundancy of Linuron Degradation in Microbial Communities in Agricultural Soil and Biopurification Systems. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 82, 9:2843-2853.

Jurburg, S.D., Salles, J. F., 2015. Functional Redundancy and Ecosystem Function – The Soil Microbiota as a Case Study. Biodiversity in Ecosystems – Linking Structure and Function. InTech.

Keiser, A.D., Strickland, M.S., Fierer, N., Bradford, M.A., 2011. The effect of resource history on the functioning of soil microbial communities is maintained across time. Biogeosciences. 8, 6: 1477–1486.

Lennon, J. T., Jones, S. E., 2011. Microbial seed banks: the ecological and evolutionary implications of dormancy. Nature Reviews. Microbiology, 9, 2: 119–130.

Navarro-Noya, Y. E., Gómez-Acata, S., Montoya-Ciriaco, N., et a., 2013. Relative impacts of tillage, residue management and crop-rotation on soil bacterial communities in a semi-arid agroecosystem. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 65, 86–95.

Pagaling, E., Strathdee, F., Spears, B.M., 2014. Community history affects the predictability of microbial ecosystem development. The ISME Journal, 8, 1: 19–30.

Panizzon, J.P., Pilz Júnior, H.L., Knaak, et al., 2015. Microbial Diversity: Relevance and Relationship Between Environmental Conservation And Human Health. Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology, 58,1: 137–145.

Sun, B., Jia, S., Zhang, S., et al., 2016. No tillage combined with crop rotation improves soil microbial community composition and metabolic activity. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 23, 7: 6472–6482.

Torsvik, V., Ovreas L., 2002. Microbial diversity and function in soil: From genes to ecosystems. Current Opinion in Microbiology, 5,3: 240–245.

Data publikacji: 2017-10-03 12:47:28
Data złożenia artykułu: 2017-05-24 23:47:44


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Jarosław Grządziel

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.