Positive intercropping effects on biomass production are species-specific and involve rhizosphere enzyme activities: Evidence from a field study

Less attention has been given to soil enzymes that contribute to beneficial rhizosphere interactions in intercropping systems. Therefore, we performed a field experiment by growing faba bean, lupine, and maize in mono and mixed cultures in a moderately fertile soil. We measured shoot biomass and the kinetic parameters (maximal velocity (Vmax) and Michaelis-constant (Km)) of three key enzymes in the rhizosphere: Leucine-aminopeptidase (LAP), β-1,4-N-acetylglucosaminidase (NAG), and phosphomonoesterase (PHO). Faba bean benefitted in mixed cultures by greater shoot biomass production with both maize and lupine compared to its expected biomass in monoculture. Next, LAP and NAG kinetic parameters were less responsive to mono and mixed cultures across the crop species. In contrast, both the Vmax and Km values of PHO increased in the faba bean rhizosphere when grown in mixed cultures with maize and lupine. A positive relative interaction index for shoot P and N uptake for faba bean showed its net facilitative interactions in the mixed cultures. Overall, these results suggest that over-productivity in intercropping is crop-specific and the positive intercropping effects could be modulated by P availability. We argue that the enzyme activities involved in nutrient cycling should be incorporated in further research. [Figure not available: see fulltext.] © 2021, The Author(s).

Kumar A.1 , Blagodaskaya E. 2, 3 , Dippold M.A.4 , Temperton V.M.1
Springer Nature
  • 1 Institute of Ecology, Faculty of Sustainability, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Lüneburg, 21335, Germany
  • 2 Department of Soil Ecology, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research - UFZ Halle, Halle (Saale), 06120, Germany
  • 3 Agro-Technology Institute, RUDN University, Moscow, 117198, Russian Federation
  • 4 Biogeochemistry of Agroecosystems, University of Goettingen, Buesgenweg 2, Goettingen, 37077, Germany
Ключевые слова
Biomass increase; Enzyme kinetic parameters; Niche complementarity; Nitrogen fixation; Phosphorus mobilization; Relative interaction index
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