Nitrogen fertilization altered arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi abundance and soil erosion of paddy fields in the Taihu Lake region of China

  • Shujuan ZhangEmail author
  • Jiazheng Yu
  • Shuwei Wang
  • Rajendra Prasad Singh
  • Dafang FuEmail author
Research Article


Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi were of importance in mitigating soil erosion, which was highly influenced by biotic and abiotic factors, such as host plant growth and soil nutrient. To investigate the impact of nitrogen (N) fertilization on seasonal variance in AM colonization and soil erosion, we conducted a field experiment with rice cultivation under four N fertilizer levels (0 kg N ha−1, 270 kg N ha−1, 300 kg N ha−1, and 375 kg N ha−1 plus organic fertilizers) in the Taihu Lake region, China. We investigated AM colonization before rice transplantation, during rice growth, and after rice harvest. We also assessed soil splash erosion of intact soil cores sampled at tillering and after rice harvest. We found that AM colonization (indicated by percentage of root length colonization) varied from 15 to 73%, which was attributed to rice growth, N fertilization, and their interaction. Soil loss due to splash erosion was cut down by organic N fertilizer at tillering, while higher inorganic N fertilization significantly increased soil loss after rice harvest. Additionally, we found significantly negative relationships of AM colonization to soil loss but positive relationships to soil aggregate stability. We highlighted the potential role of AM fungi in decreasing soil erosion and suggested that high N fertilization should be considered carefully when seeking after high yields.


Nitrogen Arbuscular mycorrhiza Splash erosion Aggregate stability Rice Fertilization 



We would like to thank Wenfei Yun for help with data collection.

Funding information

This work was supported by Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (grant numbers BK20160689) and National Key Technologies R&D Program of China (2015BAL02B05).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Municipal Engineering, School of Civil EngineeringSoutheast UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina

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