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Variations in soil bacterial taxonomic profiles and putative functions in response to straw incorporation combined with N fertilization during the maize growing season

Li, Hui, Zhang, YongYong, Yang, Shan, Wang, Zhirui, Feng, Xue, Liu, Heyong, Jiang, Yong
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2019 v.283 pp. 106578
Acidobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Nitrospirae, alpha-Proteobacteria, ammonia, ammonium, bacterial communities, carbon, carbon nitrogen ratio, community structure, corn, crop yield, crops, denitrification, developmental stages, ecosystem services, eutrophication, fertilizer application, gamma-Proteobacteria, growing season, intensive farming, nitrification, nitrogen, nitrogen cycle, nitrogen fertilizers, nitrogen fixation, nutrient content, oxidation, phylogeny, physicochemical properties, soil bacteria, soil biological properties, soil carbon, soil chemical properties, soil fertility, soil nutrients, soil organic matter, soil physical properties, straw, water content, China
Integrating nitrogen (N) fertilization with crop residue amendments is usually used to enhance soil nutrient levels and promote crop growth in regions with intensive agriculture. However, the interactive effects of straw incorporation and N fertilization on the abiotic and biological properties of soil are not fully understood, especially under field conditions at different crop growth stages. In this study, we estimated the dynamic changes in the soil physicochemical properties and bacterial communities in response to N fertilization, straw incorporation, and their combinations during the maize growing season in black soil region in Harbin, China. N fertilization increased the relative abundance of the typical copiotrophic bacterial taxa, Alphaproteobacteria, but reduced that of the oligotrophic group, Acidobacteria. The straw incorporation enhanced the relative abundance of Bacteroidetes and Gammaproteobacteria, within which a variety of cellulolysis-related species phylogenetically fell. Interestingly, the straw amendments changed the effects of N fertilization on the overall soil bacterial community composition, possibly by altering the soil total carbon, C/N ratio, fixed ammonium, and moisture level. N fertilization stimulated most of the carbon (C) transformation and N cycling processes, and the straw incorporation increased the cellulolysis, N fixation, ureolysis, ammonia oxidation and denitrification functions. There were no differences in the soil chemical properties, microbial taxa profiles or predicted functions between the conventional N fertilizer usage (high N level) and the optimized N fertilization management scheme (low N level), irrespective of straw incorporation, implying that moderately reducing the usage of N fertilizer will not change the ecosystem service and function in this organic matter-rich black soil region. The relative abundance of the copiotrophic bacterial taxa decreased at the mid-growing season, which might be caused by the low soil C and N availability. In contrast, the oligotrophic bacterial groups showed predominance at the mid-growing season, which might aim to mineralize soil organic matter to meet the growth needs of both the crops and the microbes. The nitrifiers (Nitrospirae) and nitrification process were sharply activated at the mid-growing season, especially under the straw amendment condition, inferring that the combination of straw application with N fertilizer could serve as an effective measure for improving soil fertility in Northeast China. The present study enhanced our knowledge on the dynamic changes in soil biotic and abiotic parameters in response to straw incorporation and N fertilization during the maize growing season. Still, this study provides a reference for designing an environmentally friendly fertilization strategy that both alleviates environmental stress and maintains a high crop yield in Northeast China.