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Responses of soil methanogens, methanotrophs, and methane fluxes to land-use conversion and fertilization in a hilly red soil region of southern China

Abstract

Changes in land-uses and fertilization are important factors regulating methane (CH4) emissions from paddy soils. However, the responses of soil CH4 emissions to these factors and the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. The objective of this study was to explore the effects of land-use conversion from paddies to orchards and fertilization on soil CH4 fluxes, and the abundance and community compositions of methanogens and methanotrophs. Soil CH4 fluxes were quantified by static chamber and gas chromatography technology. Abundance and community structures of methanogens and methanotrophs (based on mcrA and pmoA genes, respectively) were determined by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR), and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP), cloning and sequence analysis, respectively. Results showed that land-use conversion from paddies to orchards dramatically decreased soil CH4 fluxes, whereas fertilization did not distinctly affect soil CH4 fluxes. Furthermore, abundance of methanogens and methanotrophs were decreased after converting paddies to orchards. Fertilization decreased the abundance of these microorganisms, but the values were not statistically significant. Moreover, land-use conversion had fatal effects on some members of the methanogenic archaea (Methanoregula and Methanosaeta), increased type II methanotrophs (Methylocystis and Methylosinus), and decreased type I methanotrophs (Methylobacter and Methylococcus). However, fertilization could only significantly affect type I methanotrophs in the orchard plots. In addition, CH4 fluxes from paddy soils were positively correlated with soil dissolved organic carbon contents and methanogens abundance, whereas CH4 fluxes in orchard plots were negatively related to methanotroph abundance. Therefore, our results suggested that land-use conversion from paddies to orchards could change the abundance and community compositions of methanogens and methanotrophs, and ultimately alter the soil CH4 fluxes. Overall, our study shed insight on the underlying mechanisms of how land-use conversion from paddies to orchards decreased CH4 emissions.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41471095) and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2012CB417103). We would like to thank the staffs of the Qianyanzhou Experimental Station for their fruitful assistance in field sampling. Special thanks go to the anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on the previous version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Xing Wu or Guohua Liu.

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Responsible editor: Robert Duran

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Liu, H., Wu, X., Li, Z. et al. Responses of soil methanogens, methanotrophs, and methane fluxes to land-use conversion and fertilization in a hilly red soil region of southern China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24, 8731–8743 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-8628-y

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Keywords

  • Land-use conversion
  • CH4 fluxes
  • Methanogens
  • Methanotrophs
  • Fertilization