The relationship between microbial biodiversity and soil function is an important issue in ecology, yet most studies have been performed in pristine ecosystems. Here, we assess the role of microbial diversity in ecological function and remediation strategies in diesel-contaminated soils. Soil microbial diversity was manipulated using a removal by dilution approach and microbial functions were determined using both metagenomic analyses and enzymatic assays. A shift from Proteobacteria- to Actinobacteria-dominant communities was observed when species diversity was reduced. Metagenomic analysis showed that a large proportion of functional gene categories were significantly altered by the reduction in biodiversity. The abundance of genes related to the nitrogen cycle was significantly reduced in the low-diversity community, impairing denitrification. In contrast, the efficiency of diesel biodegradation was increased in the low-diversity community and was further enhanced by addition of red clay as a stimulating agent. Our results suggest that the relationship between microbial diversity and ecological function involves trade-offs among ecological processes, and should not be generalized as a positive, neutral, or negative relationship.
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