Microbial biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in Malaysian peatswamps forests

Catherine M. Yule, Steven Y.K Aw, Wilhelm W.H. Eng, Han Ming Gan, Sui Mae Lee, Cheryl Ong, Kuan Shion Ong, Chin Chin Too and Alex Keller

Proceedings of the 15th International Peat Congress


anaerobic, microbial-communities, peatswamp-forests



Southeast Asian tropical peatswamp forests support distinctive microbial communities that differ from those of other wetlands, including temperate peatlands. The microbes control the decomposition of plant matter, and consequently their activities are crucial to the formation of peat and sequestration of carbon in peat layers up to 25 m deep. Metagenomic studies indicate that up to 80% of the microbes are novel species or strains, underscoring the enormous gap in our microbial taxonomic knowledge. The extreme, nutrient poor, acidic environment fosters strong competition for niches and scarce nutrients among microbes resulting in the evolution of antibiotics and anti-biofilm agents to overcome competitors, and also nutrient-acquiring enzymes (e.g. to decompose cellulose and lignin under acidic conditions). The microbial communities vary with peat depth and also with respect to the rhizospheres of