Soil and tree species traits both shape soil microbial communities during early growth of Chinese subtropical forests

Created at: 2013-06-10

Initial title: Tree-species-specific effects on soil microbial community composition in subtropical southeastern China

Envisaged journal: Soil Biology and Biochemistry

Envisaged date: 2015-01-28


A better understanding of the linkages between aboveground and belowground biotic communities is needed for more accurate predictions about how ecosystems may be altered by climate change, land management, or biodiversity loss. Soil microbes are strongly affected by multiple factors including local abiotic environmental conditions and plant characteristics. To find out how soil microbial communities respond to multiple facets of the local soil and plant environment, we analyzed soil lipid profiles associated with three-year-old monocultures of 29 tree species. These species are all native of the diverse subtropical forests of southeast China and greatly vary in functional traits, growth or biomass characteristics, and phylogenetic relatedness. Along with the traits of each tree species, we also determined the soil and plot characteristics in each monoculture plot and tested for phylogenetic signals in tree species-specific microbial indicators. Microbial community structure and biomass were influenced by both, soil properties and plant functional traits, but were not related to the phylogenetic distances of tree species. Specifically, total microbial biomass, indicators for fungi, bacteria, and actinomycetes were positively correlated with soil pH, soil organic nitrogen (N), and soil moisture. Our results also indicate that tree growth factors, leaf dry matter content, and leaf carbon (C) to nitrogen N ratio all influence the multivariate soil microbial community structure and positively promote the abundances of specific microbial functional groups (fungi and actinomycetes, Gram positive bacteria, and Gram negative bacteria, respectively). At the same time, a negative influence offrom leaf nitrogen N content was detected for on Gram positive bacterial abundance, indicating plant-microbial competition for nitrogen N (N) in our system. In conclusion, even at early stages of tree growth, soil microbial community abundance and structure can be significantly influenced by plant traits, in combination with local soil characteristics.

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Calculated Authors

Zhiqin Pei Helge Bruelheide, Prof. François Buscot David Eichenberg, Dr. Jessica Gutknecht Wenzel Kröber Peter Kühn Ying Li, Dr. Oliver Purschke Thomas Scholten Goddert von Oheimb Werner Härdtle, Prof. Karin Nadrowski Karsten Schmidt Gunnar Seidler Steffen Seitz Sabine Flaiz Christian Geißler Philipp Goebes Anja Hallensleben

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