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Biochar decreased microbial metabolic quotient and shifted community composition four years after a single incorporation in a slightly acid rice paddy from southwest China

Zheng, Jufeng, Chen, Junhui, Pan, Genxing, Liu, Xiaoyu, Zhang, Xuhui, Li, Lianqing, Bian, Rongjun, Cheng, Kun, Jinwei, Zheng
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.571 pp. 206-217
Actinobacteria, Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Zygomycota, bacteria, beta-glucosidase, biochar, bulk density, carbon nitrogen ratio, community structure, fungal communities, fungi, microbial biomass, paddy soils, rice, soil microorganisms, soil organic carbon, soil pH, soil respiration, soil stabilization, species diversity, China
While numerous studies both in laboratory and field have showed short term impacts of biochar on soil microbial community, there have been comparatively few reports addressing its long term impacts particular in field condition. This study investigated the changes of microbial community activity and composition in a rice paddy four years after a single incorporation of biochar at 20 and 40t/ha. The results indicated that biochar amendment after four years increased soil pH, soil organic C (SOC), total N and C/N ratio and decreased bulk density, particularly for the 40t/ha treatment compared to the control (0t/ha). Though no significant difference was observed in soil basal respiration, biochar amendment increased soil microbial biomass C and resulted in a significantly lower metabolic quotient. Besides, dehydrogenase and β-glucosidase activities were significantly decreased under biochar amendment relative to the control. The results of Illumina Miseq sequencing showed that biochar increased α-diversity of bacteria but decreased that of fungi and changed both bacterial and fungal community structures significantly. Biochar did not change the relative abundances of majority of bacteria at phylum level with the exception of a significant reduction of Actinobacteria, but significantly changed most of bacterial groups at genus level, particularly at 40t/ha. In contrast, biochar significantly decreased the relative abundances of Ascomycota and Basidiomycota by 11% and 66% and increased the relative abundances of Zygomycota by 147% at 40t/ha compared to the non-amended soil. Redundancy analysis (RDA) indicated that biochar induced changes in soil chemical properties, such as pH, SOC and C/N, were important factors driving community composition shifts. This study suggested that biochar amendment may increase microbial C use efficiency and reduce some microorganisms that are capable of decomposing more recalcitrant soil C, which may help stabilization of soil organic matter in paddy soil in long term.