Soil microbial diversity and community composition during conversion from conventional to organic agriculture

S.Q. van Rijssel*, Ciska G.F. Veen, G.J. Koorneef, Tanja Bakx-Schotman, Freddy C. ten Hooven, S.A. Geisen, W.H. van der Putten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

It is generally assumed that the dependence of conventional agriculture on artificial fertilizers and pesticides strongly impacts the environment, while organic agriculture relying more on microbial functioning may mitigate these impacts. However, it is not well known how microbial diversity and community composition change in conventionally managed farmers’ fields that are converted to organic management. Here, we sequenced bacterial and fungal communities of 34 organic fields on sand and marine clay soils in a time series (chronosequence) covering 25 years of conversion. Nearby conventional fields were used as references.
We found that community composition of bacteria and fungi differed between organic and conventionally managed fields. In the organic fields, fungal diversity increased with time since conversion. However, this effect disappeared when the conventional paired fields were included. There was a relationship between pH and soil organic matter content and the diversity and community composition of bacteria and fungi. In marine clay soils, when time since organic management increased, fungal communities in organic fields became more dissimilar to those in conventional fields. We conclude that conversion to organic management in these Dutch farmers’ fields did not increase microbial community diversity. Instead, we observed that in organic fields in marine clay when time since conversion increased soil fungal community composition became progressively dissimilar from that in conventional fields. Our results also showed that the paired sampling approach of organic and conventional fields was essential in order to control for environmental variation that was otherwise unaccounted for.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4017-4030
JournalMolecular Ecology
Volume31
Issue number15
Early online date21 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

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