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Effects of different long-term farmland mulching practices on the loessial soil fungal community in a semiarid region of China

Huang, Fangyuan, Liu, Zihan, Mou, Hongyan, Zhang, Peng, Jia, Zhikuan
Applied soil ecology 2019
agricultural land, arid lands, biodegradability, community structure, crop yield, fungal communities, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, mulching, multidimensional scaling, nitrate nitrogen, planting, plastic film mulches, semiarid zones, soil fungi, soil temperature, soil water, straw mulches, China
The Northwest Loess Plateau is a typical area of dryland agricultural production in China. Farmland mulching is often used to preserve the soil moisture and increase crop yields. However, the impacts of long-term farmland mulching practices on the soil fungal communities in the loessial soil in semiarid areas of China were less explored. Thus, we investigated the variations in the soil fungal communities under different mulching patterns using high-throughput sequencing to understand how different mulching practices affect these communities. The following treatments were investigated: ridge-furrow mulching pattern (R), flat plastic film mulching (P), flat biodegradable film mulching (B), flat straw mulching (S), and conventional flat planting without mulching as a control (CK). Farmland mulching practices significantly affected the soil fungal diversity and community structure by changing the soil properties. Compared with CK, the P and S treatments significantly increased the soil fungal diversity, thereby suggesting that these practices provided the most suitable growth environment for fungi. The soil moisture and nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N) content were the most important factors that affected the fungal diversity. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling ordination showed that the fungal communities in CK were separated from those in R and B treatments and closely clustered with the communities in the P and S treatments, thereby suggesting that the fungal community compositions differed slightly between the P and S treatments and the CK treatment, but the soil fungal community compositions in the R and B treatments differed significantly from that in CK. In addition, the fungal community composition depended primarily on the soil temperature and NO3-N. These results indicate that different farmland mulching practices affected the soil moisture, soil temperature, and NO3-N to change the soil fungal community distribution patterns in this region. Overall, the soil fungal diversity and abundance were both higher in the P treatment than the other treatments. Therefore, flat plastic film mulching is recommended for semiarid areas.