Microbial Biomass and Community Structure in a Sequence of Soils with Increasing Fertility and Changing Land Use
The microbial biomass and community structure of eight Chinese red soils with different fertility and land use history was investigated. Two community based microbiological measurements, namely, community level physiological profiling (CLPP) using Biolog sole C source utilization tests and phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profiles, were used to investigate the microbial ecology of these soils and to determine how land use alters microbial community structure. Microbial biomass-C and total PLFAs were closely correlated to organic carbon and total nitrogen, indicating that these soil microbial measures are potentially good indices of soil fertility in these highly weathered soils. Metabolic quotients and C source utilization were not correlated with organic carbon or microbial biomass. Multivariate analysis of sole carbon source utilization patterns and PLFAs demonstrated that land use history and plant cover type had a significant impact on microbial community structure. PLFAs showed these differences more than CLPP methods. Consequently, PLFA analysis was a better method for assessing broad-spectrum community differences and at the same time attempting to correlate changes with soil fertility. Soils from tea orchards were particularly distinctive in their CLPP. A modified CLPP method, using absorbance readings at 405 nm and different culture media at pH values of 4.7 and 7.0, showed that the discrimination obtained can be influenced by the culture conditions. This method was used to show that the distinctive microbial community structure in tea orchard soils was not, however, due to differences in pH alone.
KeywordsMicrobial Biomass Microbial Community Structure Phospholipid Fatty Acid Carbon Source Utilization Metabolic Quotient
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