Rare genera differentiate urban green space soil bacterial communities in three cities across the world

Jacob G. Mills, Caitlin A. Selway, Laura S. Weyrich, Chris Skelly, Philip Weinstein, Torsten Thomas, Jennifer M. Young, Emma Marczylo, Sudesh Yadav, Vijay Yadav, Andrew Lowe, Martin F. Breed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Downloads (Pure)


Vegetation complexity is potentially important for urban green space designs aimed at fostering microbial biodiversity to benefit human health. Exposure to urban microbial biodiversity may influence human health outcomes via immune training and regulation. In this context, improving human exposure to microbiota via biodiversity-centric urban green space designs is an underused opportunity. There is currently little knowledge on the association between vegetation complexity (i.e. diversity and structure) and soil microbiota of urban green spaces. Here, we investigated the association between vegetation complexity and soil bacteria in urban green spaces in Bournemouth, UK; Haikou, China; and the City of Playford, Australia by sequencing the 16S rRNA V4 gene region of soil samples and assessing bacterial diversity. We characterized these green spaces as having ‘low’ or ‘high’ vegetation complexity and explored whether these two broad categories contained similar bacterial community compositions and diversity around the world. Within cities, we observed significantly different alpha and beta diversities between vegetation complexities; however, these results varied between cities. Rare genera (<1% relative abundance individually, on average 35% relative abundance when pooled) were most likely to be significantly different in sequence abundance between vegetation complexities and therefore explained much of the differences in microbial communities observed. Overall, general associations exist between soil bacterial communities and vegetation complexity, although these are not consistent between cities. Therefore, more in-depth work is required to be done locally to derive practical actions to assist the conservation and restoration of microbial communities in urban areas.
Original languageEnglish
Article number000320
Number of pages10
JournalAccess Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • microbial conservation
  • urban green space
  • vegetation complexity
  • soil bacteria
  • urban design


Dive into the research topics of 'Rare genera differentiate urban green space soil bacterial communities in three cities across the world'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this