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Soil microbial biodiversity promotes crop productivity and agro-ecosystem functioning in experimental microcosms


Romero, Ferran; Hilfiker, Sarah; Edlinger, Anna; Held, Alain; Hartman, Kyle; Labouyrie, Maëva; van der Heijden, Marcel G A (2023). Soil microbial biodiversity promotes crop productivity and agro-ecosystem functioning in experimental microcosms. Science of the Total Environment, 885:163683.

Abstract

Soil biota contribute substantially to multiple ecosystem functions that are key for geochemical cycles and plant performance. However, soil biodiversity is currently threatened by land-use intensification, and a mechanistic understanding of how soil biodiversity loss interacts with the myriad of intensification elements (e.g., the application of chemical fertilizers) is still unresolved. Here we experimentally simplified soil biological communities in microcosms to test whether changes in the soil microbiome influenced soil multifunctionality including crop productivity (leek, Allium porrum). Additionally, half of microcosms were fertilized to further explore how different levels of soil biodiversity interact with nutrient additions. Our experimental manipulation achieved a significant reduction of soil alpha-diversity (45.9 % reduction in bacterial richness, 82.9 % reduction in eukaryote richness) and resulted in the complete removal of key taxa (i.e., arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi). Soil community simplification led to an overall decrease in ecosystem multifunctionality; particularly, plant productivity and soil nutrient retention capacity were reduced with reduced levels of soil biodiversity. Ecosystem multifunctionality was positively correlated with soil biodiversity (R = 0.79). Mineral fertilizer application had little effect on multifunctionality compared to soil biodiversity reduction, but it reduced leek nitrogen uptake from decomposing litter by 38.8 %. This suggests that natural processes and organic nitrogen acquisition are impaired by fertilization. Random forest analyses revealed a few members of protists (i.e., Paraflabellula), Actinobacteria (i.e., Micolunatus), and Firmicutes (i.e., Bacillus) as indicators of ecosystem multifunctionality. Our results suggest that preserving the diversity of soil bacterial and eukaryotic communities within agroecosystems is crucial to ensure the provisioning of multiple ecosystem functions, particularly those directly related to essential ecosystem services such as food provision.

Abstract

Soil biota contribute substantially to multiple ecosystem functions that are key for geochemical cycles and plant performance. However, soil biodiversity is currently threatened by land-use intensification, and a mechanistic understanding of how soil biodiversity loss interacts with the myriad of intensification elements (e.g., the application of chemical fertilizers) is still unresolved. Here we experimentally simplified soil biological communities in microcosms to test whether changes in the soil microbiome influenced soil multifunctionality including crop productivity (leek, Allium porrum). Additionally, half of microcosms were fertilized to further explore how different levels of soil biodiversity interact with nutrient additions. Our experimental manipulation achieved a significant reduction of soil alpha-diversity (45.9 % reduction in bacterial richness, 82.9 % reduction in eukaryote richness) and resulted in the complete removal of key taxa (i.e., arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi). Soil community simplification led to an overall decrease in ecosystem multifunctionality; particularly, plant productivity and soil nutrient retention capacity were reduced with reduced levels of soil biodiversity. Ecosystem multifunctionality was positively correlated with soil biodiversity (R = 0.79). Mineral fertilizer application had little effect on multifunctionality compared to soil biodiversity reduction, but it reduced leek nitrogen uptake from decomposing litter by 38.8 %. This suggests that natural processes and organic nitrogen acquisition are impaired by fertilization. Random forest analyses revealed a few members of protists (i.e., Paraflabellula), Actinobacteria (i.e., Micolunatus), and Firmicutes (i.e., Bacillus) as indicators of ecosystem multifunctionality. Our results suggest that preserving the diversity of soil bacterial and eukaryotic communities within agroecosystems is crucial to ensure the provisioning of multiple ecosystem functions, particularly those directly related to essential ecosystem services such as food provision.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Environmental Engineering
Physical Sciences > Environmental Chemistry
Physical Sciences > Waste Management and Disposal
Physical Sciences > Pollution
Language:English
Date:1 August 2023
Deposited On:27 Jun 2023 14:58
Last Modified:29 Jun 2024 01:36
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0048-9697
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.163683
PubMed ID:37142020
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)