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Changes of soil microbial communities during decomposition of straw residues under different land uses

Zhang, Hong, Xu, Wenxin, Li, Yubao, Lyu, Jialong, Cao, Yingfei, He, Wenxiang
Journal of Arid Land 2017 v.9 no.5 pp. 666-677
amino acids, arid lands, aromatic compounds, biochemical pathways, carbohydrates, carboxylic acids, corn straw, correlation, cropland, functional diversity, land use, monitoring, orchards, peaches, polyamines, polymers, soil, soil microorganisms, soil organic carbon, soybeans, species diversity, vineyards
Monitoring soil microbial communities can lead to better understanding of the transformation processes of organic carbon in soil. The present study investigated the changes of soil microbial communities during straw decomposition in three fields, i.e., cropland, peach orchard and vineyard. Straw decomposition was monitored for 360 d using a mesh-bag method. Soil microbial metabolic activity and functional diversity were measured using the Biolog-Eco system. In all three fields, dried straws with a smaller size decomposed faster than their fresh counterparts that had a larger size. Dried corn straw decomposed slower than dried soybean straw in the early and middle stages, while the reverse trend was found in the late stage. The cropland showed the highest increase in microbial metabolic activity during the straw decomposition, whereas the peach orchard showed the lowest. There was no significant change in the species dominance or evenness of soil microbial communities during the straw decomposition. However, the species richness fluctuated significantly, with the peach orchard showing the highest richness and the cropland the lowest. With different carbon sources, the peach orchard utilised carbon the most, followed by the cropland and the vineyard. In all three fields, carbon was utilized in following decreasing order: saccharides>amino acids>polymers>polyamines>carboxylic acids>aromatic compounds. In terms of carbon-source utilization, soil microbial communities in the peach orchard were less stable than those in the cropland. The metabolic activity and species dominance of soil microbial communities were negatively correlated with the straw residual percentage. Refractory components were primarily accumulated in the late stages, thus slowing down the straw decomposition. The results showed that dried and crushed corn straw was better for application in long-term fields. The diversity of soil microbial communities was more stable in cropland than in orchards during the straw decomposition.