Development of soil microbial communities during tallgrass prairie restoration

TitleDevelopment of soil microbial communities during tallgrass prairie restoration
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsJangid, K, Williams, MA, Franzluebbers, AJ, Blair, JM, Coleman, DC, Whitman, WB
JournalSoil Biology & Biochemistry
Pagination302 -312
Accession NumberKNZ001269
Keywords16S rRNA, Bacterial community, Cropland, PLFA, prairie, restoration

Soil microbial communities were examined in a chronosequence of four different land-use treatments at the Konza Prairie Biological Station, Kansas. The time series comprised a conventionally tilled cropland (CTC) developed on former prairie soils, two restored grasslands that were initiated on former agricultural soils in 1998 (RG98) and 1978 (RG78), and an annually burned native tallgrass prairie (BNP), all on similar soil types. In addition, an unburned native tallgrass prairie (UNP) and another grassland restored in 2000 (RG00) on a different soil type were studied to examine the effect of long-term fire exclusion vs. annual burning in native prairie and the influence of soil type on soil microbial communities in restored grasslands. Both 16S rRNA gene clone libraries and phospholipid fatty acid analyses indicated that the structure and composition of bacterial communities in the CTC soil were significantly different from those in prairie soils. Within the time series, soil physicochemical characteristics changed monotonically. However, changes in the microbial communities were not monotonic, and a transitional bacterial community formed during restoration that differed from communities in either the highly disturbed cropland or the undisturbed original prairie. The microbial communities of RG98 and RG00 grasslands were also significantly different even though they were restored at approximately the same time and were managed similarly; a result attributable to the differences in soil type and associated soil chemistry such as pH and Ca. Burning and seasonal effects on soil microbial communities were small. Similarly, changing plot size from 300 m2 to 150 m2 in area caused small differences in the estimates of microbial community structure. In conclusion, microbial community structure and biochemical properties of soil from the tallgrass prairie were strongly impacted by cultivation, and the microbial community was not fully restored even after 30 years.