Li, B., S. S. Roley, D. S. Duncan, J. Guo, J. F. Quensen, H. Yu, and J. M. Tiedje. 2021. Long-term excess nitrogen fertilizer increases sensitivity of soil microbial community to seasonal change revealed by ecological network and metagenome analyses. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 160:108349.

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Nitrogen (N) fertilizer has often been generously applied to increase crop biomass yield. Although the influences of inorganic N fertilizer on soil microbial communities have been widely studied, the effect of N fertilizer on microbial co-occurrence networks and its metagenome is largely unknown. Further, seasonal changes in microbial community responses to N addition have rarely been reported. In this study, three N fertilizer rates (0, 56, 196 kg N/ha) were applied annually in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) grown for bioenergy production in the upper Midwest, USA. The soil microbiome was affected by both fertilizer and low pH in the 7th year of fertilization treatments. The microbial community structures were relatively stable during the growing season for each N fertilizer rate. However, the excess N fertilizer (196N) increased the seasonal variation of bacterial and fungal communities. Network analysis showed that the microbial interactions at the 196N treatment were more intense, with decreased bacteria-fungal interactions compared to 56N and 0N. This suggests that the microbial community became more sensitive to environmental change under the influence of long-term excess N fertilizer. Metagenomic analysis showed that the long-term excess N fertilizer promoted many metabolic processes, especially carbohydrate and amino acid related metabolism and Archaea mediated ammonia oxidation. However, N fertilizer also reduced many other traits, especially N2 fixation and signal transduction, the latter of which may contribute to the decreased interactions between bacteria and fungi.

DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2021.108349

Associated Treatment Areas:

Switchgrass Nitrogen/Harvest Experiment - GLBRC

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