Long-term fertilizer and crop-rotation treatments differentially affect soil bacterial community structure

Chinmay Soman, Dongfang Li, Michelle M. Wander, Angela D. Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aims: Soil microbial communities influence nutrient cycling, chemistry and structure of soil, and plant productivity. In turn, agronomic practices such as fertilization and crop rotation alter soil physical and chemical properties and consequently soil microbiomes. Understanding the long-term effects of agronomic practices on soil microbiomes is essential for improving agronomic practices to optimize these microbial communities for agricultural sustainability. We examine the composition and substrate-utilization profiles of microbial communities at the Morrow Plots in Illinois. Methods: Microbial community composition is assessed with 16S rRNA gene sequencing and subsequent bioinformatic analyses. Community- level substrate utilization is characterized with the BIOLOG EcoPlate. Results: Fertilizer and rotation treatments significantly affected microbial community structure, while substrate utilization was affected by fertilizer, but not crop-rotation treatments. Differences in relative abundance and occurrence of bacterial taxa found in fertilizer treatments can explain the observed differences in community level substrate utilization. Conclusion: Long-term fertilization and crop-rotation treatments affect soil microbial community composition and physiology, specifically through chronic nutrient limitation, long-term influx of microbes and organic matter via manure application, as well as through changes in soil chemistry. Relatively greater abundance of Koribacteraceae and Solibacterales taxa in soils might prove useful as indicators of soil degradation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-159
Number of pages15
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • 16S ribosomal- RNA gene sequencing
  • Carbon source utilization patterns
  • Crop-rotation
  • Fertilization
  • Indicator species
  • Microbial community composition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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