Microbial Ecology

, Volume 75, Issue 4, pp 985–996 | Cite as

The Impacts of Soil Fertility and Salinity on Soil Nitrogen Dynamics Mediated by the Soil Microbial Community Beneath the Halophytic Shrub Tamarisk

  • Chikae Iwaoka
  • Shogo Imada
  • Takeshi Taniguchi
  • Sheng Du
  • Norikazu Yamanaka
  • Ryunosuke Tateno
Soil Microbiology


Nitrogen (N) is one of the most common limiting nutrients for primary production in terrestrial ecosystems. Soil microbes transform organic N into inorganic N, which is available to plants, but soil microbe activity in drylands is sometimes critically suppressed by environmental factors, such as low soil substrate availability or high salinity. Tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) is a halophytic shrub species that is widely distributed in the drylands of China; it produces litter enriched in nutrients and salts that are thought to increase soil fertility and salinity under its crown. To elucidate the effects of tamarisks on the soil microbial community, and thus N dynamics, by creating “islands of fertility” and “islands of salinity,” we collected soil samples from under tamarisk crowns and adjacent barren areas at three habitats in the summer and fall. We analyzed soil physicochemical properties, inorganic N dynamics, and prokaryotic community abundance and composition. In soils sampled beneath tamarisks, the N mineralization rate was significantly higher, and the prokaryotic community structure was significantly different, from soils sampled in barren areas, irrespective of site and season. Tamarisks provided suitable nutrient conditions for one of the important decomposers in the area, Verrucomicrobia, by creating “islands of fertility,” but provided unsuitable salinity conditions for other important decomposers, Flavobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, and Deltaproteobacteria, by mitigating salt accumulation. However, the quantity of these decomposers tended to be higher beneath tamarisks, because they were relatively unaffected by the small salinity gradient created by the tamarisks, which may explain the higher N mineralization rate beneath tamarisks.


Dryland Inorganic nitrogen dynamics Plant-soil interactions Saline soil Soil prokaryote community structure 



We greatly thank the members of the Institute of Soil and Water Conservation of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Arid Land Research Center (ALRC) of Tottori University, and the Field Science, Education and Research Center (FSERC) of Kyoto University, for cooperation and logistics in both field survey and laboratory analysis. We also greatly thank Dr. Kazuo Isobe for helpful comments.

Funding Information

This study was financially supported in part by JSPS-KAKENHI (Grant No. 15H05113), JSPS-NSFC Bilateral Joint Research Projects (Co-Principal Investigators: Norikazu Yamanaka and Du Sheng, NSFC Grant No. 41411140035, 41171419), Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Research Fellow (Grant No. 24-4309), and Fund of Joint Research Program of Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University.

Supplementary material

248_2017_1090_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (253 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 252 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of AgricultureKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Field Science Education and Research CenterKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.Institute for Environmental SciencesAomoriJapan
  4. 4.Arid Land Research CenterTottori UniversityTottoriJapan
  5. 5.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water ConservationChinese Academy of SciencesYanglingChina

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