Response of Soil Microbial Community to C:N:P Stoichiometry along a Caragana korshinskii Restoration Gradient on the Loess Plateau, China
Soil microorganisms play crucial roles between plants and soil following afforestation. However, the relationship between the microbial community and carbon:nitrogen:phosphorus (C:N:P) stoichiometry in the plant–soil–microbe continuum remains unclear. In this study, we investigated this relationship by collecting plant and soil samples from Caragana korshinskii Kom. plantations with different years of afforestation (17-, 32-, and 42-year-old plantations), and from farmland. Illumina sequencing
... llumina sequencing of the 16S rRNA and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) ribosomal RNA was used to examine the soil microbial community and the C, N, and P concentrations in plants, soil, and microbial biomass. Other soil characteristics were also measured. The results showed that the C and N concentrations in plants (leaves, herbs, and litter), soil, and microbial biomass increased as the vegetation restoration stage increased, but the P concentration in leaves and herbs slightly decreased. The C:P and N:P ratios in the plant–soil–microbe continuum substantially increased over time, particularly that of the microbial biomass. These results suggest that the unbalanced increase of C, N, and P following vegetation restoration may result in a P limitation in plant–soil systems. Moreover, bacterial and fungal alpha diversity significantly increased following afforestation. Afforestation had a greater impact on bacterial diversity (both alpha and beta diversity) than did fungal diversity. Among the dominant bacterial taxa, Proteobacteria increased significantly with afforestation time, whereas Actinobacteria decreased and Acidobacteria peaked in 32-year-old C. korshinskii plantations. However, there were no significant changes in the dominant fungal taxa. Collectively, we found that microbial diversity and dominant phyla were closely associated with the C:P and N:P ratios in the plant–soil–microbe continuum, particularly the N:P ratio. These results suggest that microbial diversity and composition may be limited by the imbalances of C, N, and especially P in afforested ecosystems, which provides evidence of linkages between microbial diversity and plant–soil systems in afforested ecosystems and could help in improving the predictions of sustainably restoring C. korshinskii plantations.