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Long-Term Phosphorus Fertilization Impacts Soil Fungal and Bacterial Diversity but not AM Fungal Community in Alfalfa.

Beauregard, M.S., Hamel, C., Atul-Nayyar, A., and St-Arnaud, M. (2010). "Long-Term Phosphorus Fertilization Impacts Soil Fungal and Bacterial Diversity but not AM Fungal Community in Alfalfa.", Microbial Ecology, 59(2), pp. 379-389. doi : 10.1007/s00248-009-9583-z  Access to full text


Soil function may be affected by cropping practices impacting the soil microbial community. The effect of different phosphorus (P) fertilization rates (0, 20, or 40 kg P2O5 ha-1) on soil microbial diversity was studied in 8-year-old alfalfa monocultures. The hypothesis that P fertilization modifies soil microbial community was tested using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and phospholipids fatty acid (PLFA) profiling to describe soil bacteria, fungi, and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi diversity. Soil parameters related to fertility (soil phosphate flux, soluble P, moisture, phosphatase and dehydrogenase assays, and carbon and nitrogen content of the light fraction of soil organic matter) were also monitored and related to soil microbial ribotype profiles. Change in soil P fertility with the application of fertilizer had no effect on crop yield in 8 years, but on the year of this study was associated with shifts in the composition of fungal and bacterial communities without affecting their richness, as evidenced by the absence of effect on the average number of ribotypes detected. However, variation in soil P level created by a history of differential fertilization did not significantly influence AM fungi ribotype assemblages nor AM fungi biomass measured with the PLFA 16:1ω5. Fertilization increased P flux and soil soluble P level but reduced soil moisture and soil microbial activity, as revealed by dehydrogenase assay. Results suggest that soil P fertility management could influence soil processes involving soil microorganisms. Seasonal variations were also recorded in microbial activity, soil soluble P level as well as in the abundance of specific bacterial and fungal PLFA indicators of soil microbial biomass.

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