Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 565–574 | Cite as

Effect of intercropping on crop yield and chemical and microbiological properties in rhizosphere of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), maize (Zea mays L.), and faba bean (Vicia faba L.)

  • Y. N. Song
  • F. S. Zhang
  • P. Marschner
  • F. L. Fan
  • H. M. Gao
  • X. G. Bao
  • J. H. Sun
  • L. Li
Original Paper


In this study, we investigated crop yield and various chemical and microbiological properties in rhizosphere of wheat, maize, and faba bean grown in the field solely and intercropped (wheat/faba bean, wheat/maize, and maize/faba bean) in the second and third year after establishment of the cropping systems. In both years, intercropping increased crop yield, changed N and P availability, and affected the microbiological properties in rhizosphere of the three species compared to sole cropping. Generally, intercropping increased microbial biomass C, N, and P availability, whereas it reduced microbial biomass N in rhizosphere of wheat. The rhizosphere bacterial community composition was studied by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of 16S rRNA. In the third year of different cropping systems, intercropping significantly changed bacterial community composition in rhizosphere compared with sole cropping, and the effects were most pronounced in the wheat/faba bean intercropping system. The effects were less pronounced in the second year. The results show that intercropping has significant effects on microbiological and chemical properties in the rhizosphere, which may contribute to the yield enhancement by intercropping.


Bacterial community composition Intercropping Microbial biomass PCR-DGGE Rhizosphere 



This research was supported by the Major State Basic Resource Development (973) Program of the People’s Republic of China (project no. 2006CB100206), by Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University (project no.IRT0511), and by the National Natural Science Foundation China (project no. 30571104).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. N. Song
    • 1
    • 4
  • F. S. Zhang
    • 1
  • P. Marschner
    • 2
  • F. L. Fan
    • 1
  • H. M. Gao
    • 1
  • X. G. Bao
    • 3
  • J. H. Sun
    • 3
  • L. Li
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Resources and Environmental SciencesChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Soil and Land Systems, School of Earth and Environmental SciencesDP 636 University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Institute of Soils and FertilizersGansu Academy of Agriculture SciencesLanzhouChina
  4. 4.Biotechnology InstituteFujian Academy of Agricultural SciencesFuzhouChina

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