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Microbial community diversity in agroforestry and grass vegetative filter strips

submitted by sommei 1 year and 10 months ago
Vegetative filter strips (VFS) have long been promoted as a soil conservation practice that yields many additional environmental benefits. Most previous studies have focused primarily on the role of vegetation and/or soil physical properties in these ecosystem services. Few studies have investigated the soil microbial community of VFS. Therefore, we examined potential differences in soil microbial community characteristics of claypan soil planted to VFS with differing vegetation and a traditional row-crop system in a maize–soybean rotation. Samples were tested for soil microbial function and community structure using dehydrogenase and fluorescein diacetate (FDA) hydrolysis enzyme assays and phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis, respectively. The grass VFS soil exhibited the greatest dehydrogenase activity levels and FDA activity was greater in the grass and agroforestry (i.e., tree–grass) VFS soils relative to the cropland soil. The PLFA analysis revealed community structural differences underlying these functional differences. The agroforestry VFS soil was characterized by a greater proportion of total bacteria, gram-negative bacteria, anaerobic bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi than the cropland soil. The grass VFS soil shared some characteristics with the cropland soils; but the grass VFS supported greater mycorrhizal fungi and protozoa populations. This work highlights differences in soil microbial function and community structure in VFS relative to cropland soil 12 years post VFS establishment. It also enhances our fundamental knowledge regarding soil microorganisms in VFS, which may aid in explaining some ecosystem services provided by VFS (e.g., decomposition of organic agrichemicals).


Topic: Agriculture

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