Soil aggregation, microbial community, and functions (i.e., extracellular enzyme activities; EEAs) are critical factors affecting soil C dynamics and nutrient cycling. We assessed soil aggregate distribution, stability, nutrients, and microbial characteristics within >2, 0.25–2, 0.053–0.25, and <0.053 mm aggregates, based on an eight-year field experiment in a greenhouse vegetable field in China. The field experiment includes four treatments: 100% N fertilizer (CF), 50% substitution of N fertilizer with manure (M), straw (S), and manure plus straw (MS). The amounts of nutrient (N, P2O5, and K2O) input were equal in each treatment. Results showed higher values of mean weight diameter in organic-amended soils (M, MS, and S, 2.43–2.97) vs. CF-amended soils (1.99). Relative to CF treatment, organic amendments had positive effects on nutrient (i.e., available N, P, and soil organic C (SOC)) conditions, microbial (e.g., bacterial and fungal) growth, and EEAs in the >0.053 mm aggregates, but not in the <0.053 mm aggregates. The 0.25–0.053 mm aggregates exhibited better nutrient conditions and hydrolytic activity, while the <0.053 mm aggregates had poor nutrient conditions and higher oxidative activity among aggregates, per SOC, available N, available P, and a series of enzyme activities. These results indicated that the 0.25–0.053 mm (<0.053 mm) aggregates provide suitable microhabitats for hydrolytic (oxidative) activity. Interestingly, we found that hydrolytic and oxidative activities were mainly impacted by fertilization (58.5%, P<0.01) and aggregate fractions (50.5%, P<0.01), respectively. The hydrolytic and oxidative activities were significantly (P<0.01) associated with nutrients (SOC and available N) and pH, electrical conductivity, respectively. Furthermore, SOC, available N, and available P closely (P<0.05) affected microbial communities within >0.25, 0.25–0.053, and <0.053 mm aggregates, respectively. These findings provide several insights into microbial characteristics within aggregates under different fertilization modes in the greenhouse vegetable production system in China.
- microbial characteristics
- soil aggregate distribution