Impact of diversified cropping systems and fertilization strategies on soil microbial abundance and functional potentials for nitrogen cycling

Bei Liu, Hauke Ahnemann, Donatienne Arlotti, Bruno Huyghebaert, Fogelina Cuperus, Christoph C. Tebbe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Diversified cropping systems and fertilization strategies were proposed to enhance the abundance and diversity of the soil microbiome, thereby stabilizing their beneficial services for maintaining soil fertility and supporting plant growth. Here, we assessed across three different long-term field experiments in Europe (Netherlands, Belgium, Northern Germany) whether diversified cropping systems and fertilization strategies also affect their functional gene abundance. Soil DNA was analyzed by quantitative PCR for quantifying bacteria, archaea and fungi as well as functional genes related to nitrogen (N) transformations; including bacterial and archaeal nitrification (amoA-bac,arch), three steps of the denitrification process (nirK, nirS and nosZ-cladeI,II) and N2 assimilation (nifH), respectively. Crop diversification and fertilization strategies generally enhanced soil total carbon (C), N and microbial abundance, but with variation between sites. Overall effects of diversified cropping systems and fertilization strategies on functional genes were much stronger than on the abundance of bacteria, archaea and fungi. The legume-based cropping systems showed great potential not only in stimulating the growth of N-fixing microorganisms but also in boosting downstream functional potentials for N cycling. The sorghum-based intercropping system suppressed soil ammonia oxidizing prokaryotes. N fertilization reduced the abundance of nitrifiers and denitrifiers except for ammonia-oxidizing bacteria, while the application of the synthetic nitrification inhibitor DMPP combined with mineral N reduced growth of both ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and archaea. In conclusion, this study demonstrates a strong impact of diversified agricultural practices on the soil microbiome and their functional potentials mediating N transformations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number172954
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume932
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2024

Keywords

  • Functional gene
  • Microbial abundance
  • Nitrification inhibitor DMPP
  • Nitrogen cycle
  • Quantitative PCR
  • Soil DNA

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