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The succession of microbial community structure and function is a central ecological topic, as microbes drive the Earths biogeochemical cycles and are responsible for the regulation of the gaseous composition of the atmosphere, the processes of soils formation and their resistance to natural and anthropogenic factors. To elucidate the response and mechanistic underpinnings of soil methane-oxidizing microbial community structure and metabolic potential relevant to natural forest succession on gray forest soils of Moscow region from farming through the fallows of different ages (5-25 years) to a forest biocenosis was studied. Highest methane oxidation was observed from older restored sites its recovery with restoration age. Molecular analyses indicate the presence of aerobic type I and type II groups of methanotrophs in arable and meadow sites and only type II methanotophs in forested sites. Collectively, these data indicate shifts in microbial populations associated with methane oxidation in the context of soil restoration age and provide significant insights into the response of these microbial populations to severe disturbance and recovery.
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