Direct and indirect effects of elevated CO2 and nitrogen addition on soil microbial communities in the rhizosphere of Bothriochloa ischaemum

  • Lie Xiao
  • Guobin Liu
  • Peng Li
  • Sha XueEmail author
Soils, Sec 1 • Soil Organic Matter Dynamics and Nutrient Cycling • Research Article



Elevated CO2 and nitrogen (N) addition both affect soil microbial communities, which significantly influence soil processes and plant growth. Here, we evaluated the combined effects of elevated CO2 and N addition on the soil–microbe–plant system of the Chinese Loess Plateau.

Materials and methods

A pot cultivation experiment with two CO2 treatment levels (400 and 800 μmol mol−1) and three N addition levels (0, 2.5, and 5 g N m−2 year−1) was conducted in climate-controlled chambers to evaluate the effects of elevated CO2 and N addition on microbial community structure in the rhizosphere of Bothriochloa ischaemum using phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profiles and associated soil and plant properties. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to identify the direct and indirect effects of the experimental treatments on the structure of microbial communities.

Results and discussion

Elevated CO2 and N addition both increased total and fungal PLFAs. N addition alone increased bacterial, Gram-positive, and Gram-negative PLFAs. However, elevated CO2 interacting with N addition had no significant effects on the microbial community. The SEM indicated that N addition directly affected the soil microbial community structure. Elevated CO2 and N addition both indirectly affected the microbial communities by affecting plant and soil variables. N addition exerted a stronger total effect than elevated CO2.


The results highlighted the importance of comprehensively studying soil–microbe–plant systems to deeply reveal how characteristics of terrestrial ecosystems may respond under global change.


Elevated CO2 Nitrogen deposition Phospholipid fatty acids Soil–microbe–plant system Structural equation modeling 



We would like to thank Prof. Simon Queenborough at the Yale University for his assistance with English language editing of the manuscript.

Funding information

This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41701603), Program for Science & Technology Innovation Research Team of Shaanxi Province (2018TD-037), and Western Young Scholars Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XAB2015A05).


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Eco-hydraulics in Northwest Arid Region of ChinaXi’an University of TechnologyXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water ConservationNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Institute of Soil and Water ConservationChinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water ResourcesYanglingPeople’s Republic of China

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