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Higher ammonium-to-nitrate ratio shapes distinct soil nitrifying community and favors the growth of Moso bamboo in contrast to broadleaf tree species


A pot experiment was carried out to study the response of Moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis) and broadleaf tree species (Schima superba, Cinnamomum camphora, Cyclobalanopsis glauca), representing respective native invasive and non-invasive plants in subtropical China, to N addition with three NH4+/NO3 ratios. We used 15N isotope tracing and high-throughput sequencing to study the N cycling and soil microbial communities. With an increasing NH4+/NO3 ratio, total plant biomass increased for bamboo but decreased for broadleaf trees, coinciding with the preferential assimilation of NH4+ by bamboo and NO3 by broadleaf trees, as indicated by the activities of glutamine synthetase and nitrate reductase and the enrichment of 15N in roots. The ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) rather than the ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) community responded to the addition of N with different NH4+/NO3 ratios and a distinct AOA community was formed when the NH4+/NO3 ratio was greater than one. The relationship between AOA abundance and NO3 concentration was positive for C. camphora and C. glauca but negative for P. edulis. Under addition of N with a high NH4+/NO3 ratio, the AOA composition was positively related to NO3 concentration for C. camphora but negatively for P. edulis. Addition of N with a high NH4+/NO3 ratio favored biomass production but suppressed soil nitrification for bamboo in contrast to broadleaf trees. The species-specific response to soil NH4+/NO3 ratio may be an important factor that facilitates bamboo invasion into broadleaf forests.

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This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (32071742, 41877088, 31670618).

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Correspondence to Scott X. Chang or Yongchun Li.

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Hu, X., Wang, X., Abbas, T. et al. Higher ammonium-to-nitrate ratio shapes distinct soil nitrifying community and favors the growth of Moso bamboo in contrast to broadleaf tree species. Biol Fertil Soils 57, 1171–1182 (2021).

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  • NH4 +/NO3 ratio
  • Invasive plant
  • Glutamine synthetase
  • Nitrate reductase
  • Phyllostachys edulis
  • Ammonia oxidizers