Effects of vegetation type on soil microbial community structure and catabolic diversity assessed by polyphasic methods in North China

Xue-mei Han, Ren-qing Wang, Jian Liu, Meng-cheng Wang, Juan Zhou, Wei-hua Guo
Journal of Environmental Sciences (China) 2007, 19 (10): 1228-34
Soil microbes play a major role in ecological processes and are closely associated with the aboveground plant community. In order to understand the effects of vegetation type on the characteristics of soil microbial communities, the soil microbial communities were assessed by plate counts, phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) and Biolog microplate techniques in five plant communities, i.e., soybean field (SF), artificial turf (AT), artificial shrub (AS), natural shrub (NS), and maize field (MF) in Jinan, Shandong Province, North China. The results showed that plant diversity had little discernible effect on microbial biomass but a positive impact on the evenness of utilized substrates in Biolog microplate. Legumes could significantly enhance the number of cultural microorganisms, microbial biomass, and community catabolic diversity. Except for SF dominated by legumes, the biomass of fungi and the catabolic diversity of microbial community were higher in less disturbed soil beneath NS than in frequently disturbed soils beneath the other vegetation types. These results confirmed that high number of plant species, legumes, and natural vegetation types tend to support soil microbial communities with higher function. The present study also found a significant correlation between the number of cultured bacteria and catabolic diversity of the bacterial community. Different research methods led to varied results in this study. The combination of several approaches is recommended for accurately describing the characteristics of microbial communities in many respects.

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