The effects of stubble retention and nitrogen application on soil microbial community structure and functional gene abundance under irrigated maize

Steven A. Wakelin, Matt J. Colloff, Paul R. Harvey, Petra Marschner, Adrienne L. Gregg, Stephen L. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The effects of agronomic management practices on the soil microbial community were investigated in a maize production system in New South Wales, Australia. The site has been intensively studied to measure the impact of stubble management and N-fertilizer application on greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 and N2O), N-cycling, pathology, soil structure and yield. As all of these endpoints can be regulated by microbial processes, the microbiology of the system was examined. Soil samples were taken after a winter fallow period and the diversity of the bacterial and fungal communities was measured using PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. Stubble and N shifted the structure of bacterial and fungal communities with the primary driver being stubble addition on the fungal community structure (P<0.05 for all effects). Changes in C, N (total and NO3), K and Na, were correlated (P<0.05) with variation in the microbial community structure. Quantitative PCR showed that nifH (nitrogen fixation) and napA (denitrification) gene abundance increased upon stubble retention, whereas amoA gene numbers were increased by N addition. These results showed that the management of both stubble and N have significant and long-term impacts on the size and structure of the soil microbial community at phylogenetic and functional levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-670
Number of pages10
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Volume59
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

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