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Factors affecting soil microbial community structure in tomato cropping systems

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Soil and rhizosphere microbial communities in agroecosystems may be affected by soil, climate, plant species, and management. The management and environmental factors controlling microbial biomass and community structure were identified in a three-year field experiment. The experiment consisted of a tomato production agroecosystem with the following nine treatments: bare soil, black polyethylene mulch, white polyethylene mulch, vetch cover crop, vetch roots only, vetch shoots only, rye cover crop, rye roots only, and rye shoots only. The following hypotheses were tested: (1) Temperature and moisture differences between polyethylene-covered and cover-cropped treatments are partly responsible for treatment effects on soil microbial community composition, and (2) Different species of cover crops have unique root and shoot effects on soil microbial community composition. Microbial biomass and community composition were measured by phospholipid fatty acid analysis. Microbial biomass was increased by all cover crop treatments, including root only and shoot only. Cover cropping increased the absolute amount of all microbial groups, but Gram-positive bacteria decreased in proportion under cover crops. We attribute this decrease to increased readily available carbon under cover-cropped treatments, which favored other groups over Gram-positive bacteria. Higher soil temperatures under certain treatments also increased the proportion of Gram-positive bacteria. Vetch shoots increased the amount and proportion of Gram-negative bacteria, fungi, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in the rhizosphere of tomato plants. The imposed treatments were much more significant than soil temperature, moisture, pH, and texture in controlling microbial biomass and community structure.
Buyer, Jeffrey S. , Teasdale, John R. , Roberts, Daniel P. , Zasada, Inga A. , Maul, Jude E.
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Soil biology & biochemistry 2010 May, v. 42, issue 5
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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