Plant and soil elemental C:N:P ratios are linked to soil microbial diversity during grassland restoration on the Loess Plateau, China

Plant and soil elemental ratios of carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) play a central role in shaping the composition and structure of microbial communities. However, the relationships between plant and soil elemental C:N:P ratios and microbial diversity are still poorly understood. Here, we evaluated the effects of C:N:P ratios in plant-soil systems on microbial diversity in a chronosequence of restored grasslands (1, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 30 years since restoration) on the Loess Plateau. We found that C and N concentrations, C:N and C:P ratios in leaf, root, soil and microbial biomass, bacterial and fungal diversity (Shannon-Wiener index) gradually increased with year since grassland restoration. Microbial C:N:P ratios ranged from 17.8:4.5:1 to 24.3:6.6:1, and C:P ratio increased from 17.8:1 at the 1-year site to 24.3:1 at the 30-year site, indicating the increasing P limitation for soil microorganisms during grassland development. Soil microbial diversity increased with root, soil, and microbial C and N concentrations, and decreased with P concentration (p < 0.05). Structural equation modeling indicated that soil and microbial C:N and N:P ratios had the greatest influences on soil bacterial and fungal diversity, and elemental C:N:P ratios had a greater effect on soil fungal than bacterial diversity. Our findings emphasize the importance of elemental C:N:P ratios on soil microbial diversity, which is critical for formulating policies for sustainable biodiversity conservation in terrestrial ecosystems. © 2021

Yang Y.1, 2 , Liu H.1, 2 , Yang X.3 , Yao H.3 , Deng X.3 , Wang Y. 1, 2 , An S.3 , Kuzyakov Y. 4, 5 , Chang S.X.6
Elsevier B.V.
  • 1 State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an, 710061, China
  • 2 CAS Center for Excellence in Quaternary Science and Global Change, Xi'an, 710061, China
  • 3 State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming in the Loess Plateau, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, 712100, China
  • 4 Department of Soil Science of Temperate Ecosystems, Department of Agricultural Soil Science, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, 37077, Germany
  • 5 Agro-Technological Institute, RUDN University, Moscow, 117198, Russian Federation
  • 6 Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3, Canada
Bacterial and fungal diversity; Elemental balance; High-throughput sequencing; Soil microorganism; Structural equation modeling
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