Bacterial communities in soil become sensitive to drought under intensive grazing

Stephanie D. Jurburg*, Tiago Natal-da-Luz, João Raimundo, Paula V. Morais, José Paulo Sousa, Jan Dirk van Elsas, Joana Falcao Salles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing climatic and anthropogenic pressures on soil ecosystems are expected to create a global patchwork of disturbance scenarios. Some regions will be strongly impacted by climate change, others by agricultural intensification, and others by both. Soil microbial communities are integral components of terrestrial ecosystems, but their responses to multiple perturbations are poorly understood. Here, we exposed soils from sustainably- or intensively-managed grasslands in an agro-silvo-pastoral oak woodland to month-long intensified drought and flood simulation treatments in a controlled mesocosm setting. We monitored the response of the bacterial communities at the end of one month as well as during the following month of recovery. The communities in sustainably-managed plots under all precipitation regimes were richer and more diverse than those in intensively-managed plots, and contained a lower proportion of rapidly-growing taxa. Soils from both land managements exhibited changes in bacterial community composition in response to flooding, but only intensively-managed soils were affected by drought. The ecologies of bacteria favored by both drought and flood point to both opportunism and stress tolerance as key traits shaping the community following disturbance. Finally, the response of several taxa (i.e. Chloracidobacteria RB41, Janthinobacterium sp.) to precipitation depended on land management, suggesting that the community itself affected individual disturbance responses. Our findings provide an in-depth view of the complexity of soil bacterial community responses to climatic and anthropogenic pressures in time, and highlight the potential of these stressors to have multiplicative effects on the soil biota.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1638-1646
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date18 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2018


  • Bacteria
  • Climate change
  • Land management
  • Microbiome
  • Precipitation
  • Resilience
  • Soil

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