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Changes in diversity, composition and assembly processes of soil microbial communities during Robinia pseudoacacia L. restoration on the Loess Plateau, China

Abstract

Robinia pseudoacacia L. (RP) restoration has increased vegetation cover in semi-arid regions on the Loess Plateau of China, but ecological problems have also occurred due to RP restoration, such as reduced soil moisture. Further, it is still uncertain how microbial diversity, composition and assembly processes change with RP restoration in semi-arid regions. Therefore, amplicon sequencing of small subunit ribosomal ribonucleic acid (16S rRNA) and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) genes was performed to study soil bacterial and fungal diversity, composition and assembly processes at four study sites with different stand ages of RP plantations (Y10, RP plantation with stand ages less than 10 a; Y15, RP plantation with stand ages approximately 15 a; Y25, RP plantation with stand ages approximately 25 a; and Y40, RP plantation with stand ages approximately 40 a) along a 40-a chronosequence on the Loess Plateau. The diversity of soil bacteria and fungi increased significantly during the restoration period from 10 to 15 a (P<0.05). However, compared with Y15, bacterial diversity was lower at Y25 and Y40, and fungal diversity remained stable during the restoration period between 25 and 40 a. The relative abundances of Proteobacteria and Ascomycota increased during the restoration period from 10 to 15 a. Conversely, after 15 a of restoration, they both decreased, whereas the relative abundances of Actinomycetes, Acidobacteria and Basidiomycota gradually increased. The variations in soil bacterial communities were mainly related to changes in soil total nitrogen, nitrate nitrogen and moisture contents, while soil fungal communities were mainly shaped by soil organic carbon and nitrate nitrogen contents. Bacterial communities were structured by the heterogeneous selection and stochastic process, while fungal communities were structured primarily by the stochastic process. The RP restoration induced an increase in the relative importance of heterogeneous selection on bacterial communities. Overall, this study reveals the changes in microbial diversity, community composition and assembly processes with RP restoration on the Loess Plateau and provides a new perspective on the effects of vegetation restoration on soil microbial communities in semi-arid regions.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41471437), the National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFA0600801, 2017YFC0504504), the West Light Foundation of the Chinese Academy of Science (XAB2016A04), and the Key R&D Program of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China (2022BBF02033). We thank all helpful comments for this manuscript.

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Wang, K., Wang, X., Fei, H. et al. Changes in diversity, composition and assembly processes of soil microbial communities during Robinia pseudoacacia L. restoration on the Loess Plateau, China. J. Arid Land 14, 561–575 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-022-0064-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-022-0064-2

Keywords

  • Robinia pseudoacacia
  • microbial diversity
  • community structure
  • community assembly
  • restoration
  • semi-arid regions