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Increased microbial functional diversity under long-term organic and integrated fertilization in a paddy soil

Ding, Long-Jun, Su, Jian-Qiang, Sun, Guo-Xin, Wu, Jin-Shui, Wei, Wen-Xue
Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2018 v.102 no.4 pp. 1969-1982
Bradyrhizobiaceae, Rhodospirillaceae, carbon, cost effectiveness, enzyme activity, fertilizer application, functional diversity, genes, grain yield, microarray technology, microbial communities, nitrogen cycle, nitrogen fertilizers, nutrient management, organic fertilizers, paddy soils, phosphorus, potassium, rice straw, sequence analysis, soil bacteria, soil nutrients
Microbes play key roles in diverse biogeochemical processes including nutrient cycling. However, responses of soil microbial community and functional genes to long-term integrated fertilization (chemical combined with organic fertilization) remain unclear. Here, we used pyrosequencing and a microarray-based GeoChip to explore the shifts of microbial community and functional genes in a paddy soil which received over 21-year fertilization with various regimes, including control (no fertilizer), rice straw (R), rice straw plus chemical fertilizer nitrogen (NR), N and phosphorus (NPR), NP and potassium (NPKR), and reduced rice straw plus reduced NPK (L-NPKR). Significant shifts of the overall soil bacterial composition only occurred in the NPKR and L-NPKR treatments, with enrichment of certain groups including Bradyrhizobiaceae and Rhodospirillaceae families that benefit higher productivity. All fertilization treatments significantly altered the soil microbial functional structure with increased diversity and abundances of genes for carbon and nitrogen cycling, in which NPKR and L-NPKR exhibited the strongest effect, while R exhibited the least. Functional gene structure and abundance were significantly correlated with corresponding soil enzymatic activities and rice yield, respectively, suggesting that the structural shift of the microbial functional community under fertilization might promote soil nutrient turnover and thereby affect yield. Overall, this study indicates that the combined application of rice straw and balanced chemical fertilizers was more pronounced in shifting the bacterial composition and improving the functional diversity toward higher productivity, providing a microbial point of view on applying a cost-effective integrated fertilization regime with rice straw plus reduced chemical fertilizers for sustainable nutrient management.