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Soil Microbial Communities Reflect both Inherent Soil Properties and Management Practices in Wisconsin Potato Fields

Xue, Diane, Christenson, Rachel, Genger, Ruth, Gevens, Amanda, Lankau, Richard A.
American journal of potato research 2018 v.95 no.6 pp. 696-708
agricultural productivity, chemistry, community structure, cultivars, microbial communities, plant health, potatoes, production technology, soil microorganisms, soil properties, texture, Wisconsin
Microbial communities in soils provide numerous functions vital to agricultural productivity, and there is growing interest in understanding and manipulating these communities to achieve more sustainable production systems. We investigated microbial communities in potato fields in Wisconsin to determine the extent to which microbial communities were structured by inherent soil properties versus factors under grower control. We found that soil properties, including texture and chemistry, shaped microbial communities at broad levels, determining the diversity and abundance of phyla. Organic versus conventional management, however, correlated with finer scale differences in microbial communities, while crop variety was not associated with microbial community composition in this study. These results suggest that grower practices have the potential to alter microbial communities, but these effects will take place within an existing soil context. Future research is necessary to determine how these patterns in microbial community structure relate to functional outcomes for plant health.