Impact of Wheat/Faba Bean Mixed Cropping or Rotation Systems on Soil Microbial Functionalities.
ABSTRACT: Cropping systems based on carefully designed species mixtures reveal many potential advantages in terms of enhancing crop productivity, reducing pest and diseases, and enhancing ecological services. Associating cereals and legume production either through intercropping or rotations might be a relevant strategy of producing both type of culture, while benefiting from combined nitrogen fixed by the legume through its symbiotic association with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and from a better use of P and water through mycorrhizal associations. These practices also participate to the diversification of agricultural productions, enabling to secure the regularity of income returns across the seasonal and climatic uncertainties. In this context, we designed a field experiment aiming to estimate the 2 years impact of these practices on wheat yield and on soil microbial activities as estimated through Substrate Induced Respiration method and mycorrhizal soil infectivity (MSI) measurement. It is expected that understanding soil microbial functionalities in response to these agricultural practices might allows to target the best type of combination, in regard to crop productivity. We found that the tested cropping systems largely impacted soil microbial functionalities and MSI. Intercropping gave better results in terms of crop productivity than the rotation practice after two cropping seasons. Benefits resulting from intercrop should be highly linked with changes recorded on soil microbial functionalities.
Project description:Conservation agriculture (CA) practices are being widely promoted in many areas in sub-Saharan Africa to recuperate degraded soils and improve ecosystem services. This study examined the effects of three tillage practices [conventional moldboard plowing (CT), hand hoeing (MT) and no-tillage (NT)], and three cropping systems (continuous maize, soybean-maize annual rotation, and soybean/maize intercropping) on soil quality, crop productivity, and profitability in researcher and farmer managed on-farm trials from 2010 to 2013 in northwestern Ghana. In the researcher managed mother trial, the CA practices of NT, residue retention and crop rotation/intercropping maintained higher soil organic carbon, and total soil N compared to conventional tillage practices after 4 years. Soil bulk density was higher under NT than under CT soils in the researcher managed mother trails or farmers managed baby trials after 4 years. In the researcher managed mother trial, there was no significant difference between tillage systems or cropping systems in maize or soybean yields in the first three seasons. In the fourth season, crop rotation had the greatest impact on maize yields with CT maize following soybean increasing yields by 41 and 49% compared to MT and NT maize, respectively. In the farmers' managed trials, maize yield ranged from 520 to 2700 kg ha<sup>-1</sup> and 300 to 2000 kg ha<sup>-1</sup> for CT and NT, respectively, reflecting differences in experience of farmers with NT. Averaged across farmers, CT cropping systems increased maize and soybean yield ranging from 23 to 39% compared with NT cropping systems. Partial budget analysis showed that the cost of producing maize or soybean is 20-29% cheaper with NT systems and gives higher returns to labor compared to CT practice. Benefit-to-cost ratios also show that NT cropping systems are more profitable than CT systems. We conclude that with time, implementation of CA practices involving NT, crop rotation, intercropping of maize and soybean along with crop residue retention presents a win-win scenario due to improved crop yield, increased economic return, and trends of increasing soil fertility. The biggest challenge, however, remains with producing enough biomass and retaining same on the field.
Project description:As the major crops in north China, spring crops are usually planted from April through May every spring and harvested in fall. Wheat is also a very common crop traditionally planted in fall or spring and harvested in summer year by year. This continuous cropping system exhibited the disadvantages of reducing the fertility of soil through decreasing microbial diversity. Thus, management of microbial diversity in the rhizosphere plays a vital role in sustainable crop production. In this study, ten common spring crops in north China were chosen sole-cropped and four were chosen intercropped with peanut in wheat fields after harvest. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and DNA sequencing of one 16S rDNA fragment were used to analyze the bacterial diversity and species identification. DGGE profiles showed the bacterial community diversity in rhizosphere soil samples varied among various crops under different cropping systems, more diverse under intercropping system than under sole-cropping. Some intercropping-specific bands in DGGE profiles suggested that several bacterial species were stimulated by intercropping systems specifically. Furthermore, the identification of these dominant and functional bacteria by DNA sequencing indicated that intercropping systems are more beneficial to improve soil fertility. Compared to intercropping systems, we also observed changes in microbial community of rhizosphere soil under sole-crops. The rhizosphere bacterial community structure in spring crops showed a strong crop species-specific pattern. More importantly, Empedobacter brevis, a typical plant pathogen, was only found in the carrot rhizosphere, suggesting carrot should be sown prudently. In conclusion, our study demonstrated that crop species and cropping systems had significant effects on bacterial community diversity in the rhizosphere soils. We strongly suggest sorghum, glutinous millet and buckwheat could be taken into account as intercropping crops with peanut; while hulled oat, mung bean or foxtail millet could be considered for sowing in wheat fields after harvest in North China.
Project description:Many bacteria and fungi in the plant rhizosphere and endosphere are beneficial to plant nutrient acquisition, health, and growth. Although playing essential roles in ecosystem functioning, our knowledge about the effects of multiple cropping regimes on the plant microbiome and their interactions is still limited. Here, we designed a pot experiment simulating different cropping regimes. For this purpose, wheat and faba bean plants were grown under controlled greenhouse conditions in monocultures and in two intercropping regimes: row and mixed intercropping. Bacterial and fungal communities in bulk and rhizosphere soils as well as in the roots and aerial plant parts were analyzed using large-scale metabarcoding. We detected differences in microbial richness and diversity between the cropping regimes. Generally, observed effects were attributed to differences between mixed and row intercropping or mixed intercropping and monoculture. Bacterial and fungal diversity were significantly higher in bulk soil samples of wheat and faba bean grown in mixed compared to row intercropping. Moreover, microbial communities varied between crop species and plant compartments resulting in different responses of these communities toward cropping regimes. Leaf endophytes were not affected by cropping regime but bacterial and fungal community structures in bulk and rhizosphere soil as well as fungal community structures in roots. We further recorded highly complex changes in microbial interactions. The number of negative inter-domain correlations between fungi and bacteria decreased in bulk and rhizosphere soil in intercropping regimes compared to monocultures due to beneficial effects. In addition, we observed plant species-dependent differences indicating that intra- and interspecific competition between plants had different effects on the plant species and thus on their associated microbial communities. To our knowledge, this is the first study investigating microbial communities in different plant compartments with respect to multiple cropping regimes using large-scale metabarcoding. Although a simple design simulating different cropping regimes was used, obtained results contribute to the understanding how cropping regimes affect bacterial and fungal communities and their interactions in different plant compartments. Nonetheless, we need field experiments to properly quantify observed effects in natural ecosystems.
Project description:Soils play important roles in biological productivity. While past work suggests that microbes affect soil health and respond to agricultural practices, it is not well known how soil management shapes crop host microbiomes. To elucidate the impact of management on microbial composition and function in the sorghum microbiome, we performed 16S rRNA gene and ITS2 amplicon sequencing and metatranscriptomics on soil and root samples collected from a site in California's San Joaquin Valley that is under long-term cultivation with 1) standard (ST) or no tilling (NT) and 2) cover-cropping (CC) or leaving the field fallow (NO). Our results revealed that microbial diversity, composition, and function change across tillage and cover type, with a heightened response in fungal communities, versus bacterial. Surprisingly, ST harbored greater microbial alpha diversity than NT, indicating that tillage may open niche spaces for broad colonization. Across management regimes, we observed class-level taxonomic level shifts. Additionally, we found significant functional restructuring across treatments, including enrichment for microbial lipid and carbohydrate transport and metabolism and cell motility with NT. Differences in carbon cycling were also observed, with increased prevalence of glycosyltransferase and glycoside hydrolase carbohydrate active enzyme families with CC. Lastly, treatment significantly influenced arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which had the greatest prevalence and activity under ST, suggesting that soil practices mediate known beneficial plant-microbe relationships. Collectively, our results demonstrate how agronomic practices impact critical interactions within the plant microbiome and inform future efforts to configure trait-associated microbiomes in crops.<b>Importance</b> While numerous studies show that farming practices can influence the soil microbiome, there are often conflicting results on how microbial diversity and activity respond to treatment. In addition, there is very little work published on how the corresponding crop plant microbiome is impacted. With bacteria and fungi known to critically affect soil health and plant growth, we concurrently compared how the practices of no and standard tillage, in combination with either cover-cropping or fallow fields, shape soil and plant-associated microbiomes between the two classifications. In determining not only the response to treatment in microbial diversity and composition, but for activity as well, this work demonstrates the significance of agronomic practice in modulating plant-microbe interactions, as well as encourages future work on the mechanisms involved in community assemblages supporting similar crop outcomes.
Project description:Several factors influenced the sugarcane production, and among them, higher use of nitrogen and depletion of soil nutrient constitutes a significant concern in China. Sugarcane-legume intercropping may help to regulate the microbial structure and functions. In the present study, sugarcane rhizosphere soils of three cropping systems: Sugarcane only (S-only), sugarcane with peanut (S + P), and sugarcane + soybean (S + S) were sampled in tillering, elongation, and maturation stages from two different experimental fields. High-throughput sequencing technologies applied to assess the effects of different cropping systems on the structure of nitrogenase (<i>nifH</i>) gene communities. A total of 3818 OTUs (operational taxonomic units) were acquired from all soil samples. Intercropping systems noticeably increased the relative abundance of <i>Proteobacteria</i> in the tillering stage. The increased microbial diversity in the rhizosphere was mainly due to soil organic carbon and total soil N. In contrast, intercropping has no significant negative impact on microbial abundance, but sugarcane growth stages influence it significantly, and two bacteria (<i>Bradyrhizobium</i> and <i>Pseudacidovorax</i>) showed significant shift during plant growth. The results provide insight into the microbial structure of <i>Proteobacteria</i> in the sugarcane legume-intercropping field, and how microbial community behaves in different growth stages. It can boost the microbial activity of the soil, and that could be a new strategy to stimulate soil fertility without causing any negative impact on crop production.
Project description:Yield and nutrient acquisition advantages are frequently found in intercropping systems. However, there are few published reports on soil fertility in intercropping relative to monocultures. A field experiment was therefore established in 2009 in Gansu province, northwest China. The treatments comprised maize/faba bean, maize/soybean, maize/chickpea and maize/turnip intercropping, and their correspoding monocropping. In 2011 (the 3rd year) and 2012 (the 4th year) the yields and some soil chemical properties and enzyme activities were examined after all crop species were harvested or at later growth stages. Both grain yields and nutrient acquisition were significantly greater in all four intercropping systems than corresponding monocropping over two years. Generally, soil organic matter (OM) did not differ significantly from monocropping but did increase in maize/chickpea in 2012 and maize/turnip in both years. Soil total N (TN) did not differ between intercropping and monocropping in either year with the sole exception of maize/faba bean intercropping receiving 80 kg P ha-1 in 2011. Intercropping significantly reduced soil Olsen-P only in 2012, soil exchangeable K in both years, soil cation exchangeable capacity (CEC) in 2012, and soil pH in 2012. In the majority of cases soil enzyme activities did not differ across all the cropping systems at different P application rates compared to monocrops, with the exception of soil acid phosphatase activity which was higher in maize/legume intercropping than in the corresponding monocrops at 40 kg ha-1 P in 2011. P fertilization can alleviate the decline in soil Olsen-P and in soil CEC to some extent. In summary, intercropping enhanced productivity and maintained the majority of soil fertility properties for at least three to four years, especially at suitable P application rates. The results indicate that maize-based intercropping may be an efficient cropping system for sustainable agriculture with carefully managed fertilizer inputs.
Project description:Intensive agriculture has major negative impacts on ecosystem diversity and functioning, including that of soils. The associated reduction of soil biodiversity and essential soil functions, such as nutrient cycling, can restrict plant growth and crop yield. By increasing plant diversity in agricultural systems, intercropping could be a promising way to foster soil microbial diversity and functioning. However, plant-microbe interactions and the extent to which they influence crop yield under field conditions are still poorly understood. In this study, we performed an extensive intercropping experiment using eight crop species and 40 different crop mixtures to investigate how crop diversity affects soil microbial diversity and activity, and whether these changes subsequently affect crop yield. Experiments were carried out in mesocosms under natural conditions in Switzerland and in Spain, two countries with drastically different soils and climate, and our crop communities included either one, two or four species. We sampled and sequenced soil microbial DNA to assess soil microbial diversity, and measured soil basal respiration as a proxy for soil activity. Results indicate that in Switzerland, increasing crop diversity led to shifts in soil microbial community composition, and in particular to an increase of several plant-growth promoting microbes, such as members of the bacterial phylum <i>Actinobacteria</i>. These shifts in community composition subsequently led to a 15 and 35% increase in crop yield in 2 and 4-species mixtures, respectively. This suggests that the positive effects of crop diversity on crop productivity can partially be explained by changes in soil microbial composition. However, the effects of crop diversity on soil microbes were relatively small compared to the effects of abiotic factors such as fertilization (three times larger) or soil moisture (three times larger). Furthermore, these processes were context-dependent: in Spain, where resources were limited, soil microbial communities did not respond to crop diversity, and their effect on crop yield was less strong. This research highlights the potential beneficial role of soil microbial communities in intercropping systems, while also reflecting on the relative importance of crop diversity compared to abiotic drivers of microbiomes and emphasizing the context-dependence of crop-microbe relationships.
Project description:Cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) is persistently increasing due to excessive demands of naturals. Agricultural land and its microbial diversity are primarily adapted to conventional crops, and introduction of MAP and their continuous monocropping may disturb the ecological stability of soil microbiome. Here, the effect of cultivation of MAPs on soil microbial diversity was studied. The aim of the study is to examine the effects of cultivation of MAPs on the possible shift in soil microbial diversity and to restore such impacts by using organic amendments or intercropping. Terminal restriction fragments polymorphism (TRFLP) and next-generation sequencing (NGS) studies showed that of the various selected MAPs, maximal modulation in the soil microbial diversity patterns was noticed in fields of Mentha arvensis and Artemisia annua, and the traces of essential oil/phytochemicals were detected in bulk and rhizospheric soil. In both Artemisia- and Mentha-cultivated soil, the total operating taxonomic unit (OTU) declined in both bulk and rhizospheric soil in comparison to control (Zea mays), but the bacterial richness of Mentha soil was slightly higher than that of control. However, cultivation of Mentha improved the evenness of the microbial community. The inclusion of crops like Sesbania and Chlorophytum and the application of vermicompost (VC) enhanced the microbial richness and evenness, thereby restoring the soil microbial state shift and resulting in higher productivity in the continuously Mentha cropped field. Our study concludes that long-term cultivation of some MAPs may affect the richness but promote the evenness of microbial diversity. The state shift could be restored to some extent, and crop productivity could be enhanced by the inclusion of selected crops and organic manures in cropping systems.
Project description:The continuous cropping obstacle of cucumber (<i>Cucumis sativus</i> L.) under facility cultivation is more prevalent in China. This is associated with an imbalance in soil microbial and ecological environment in long-term monocultures. It was postulated that intercropping with green garlic would relieve the continuous cropping obstacle of cucumber by altering the soil micro-ecology status. A pot-based experiment was conducted to investigate the green garlic-cucumber intercropping and cucumber monocropping systems. The results showed that the cucumber shoot biomass was improved by intercropping with green garlic. However, the population of soil bacteria and actinomycetes increased, while the fungal population decreased. The fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiles indicated that soil contained more fungal FAME biomarkers (18:1ω9c, 18:2ω6, 9) and higher fungal:bacterial ratio in the monoculture system, whereas clustering of more bacterial FAME biomarkers (cy17:0, cy19:0, 16:1ω7c10, Me16:0, 10Me17:0, 10Me18:0) was observed under intercropping conditions. Moreover, significantly (<i>P</i> < 0.05) higher soil invertase and alkaline phosphatase activities, organic matter, and available N, P and K contents were observed under intercropping systems. These were high in both bulk and rhizosphere soils in the intercropping system when compared to monocropping system. These findings suggest that intercropping with green garlic can alleviate continuous cropping obstacle of cucumber by improving the diverse composition of soil microbial community, enzyme activities, and nutrient availability.
Project description:Intercropping is an important practice in promoting plant diversity and productivity. Compared to the accumulated understanding of the legume/non-legume crop intercrops, very little is known about the effect of this practice when applied to native species on soil microbial communities in the desert ecosystem. Therefore, in the present study, bulk soil and rhizosphere microbial communities in the 2-year <i>Alhagi sparsifolia</i> (legume)/<i>Karelinia caspica</i> (non-legume) monoculture vs. intercropping systems were characterized under field conditions. Our result revealed that plant species identities caused a significant effect on microbial community composition in monocultures but not in intercropping systems. Monoculture weakened the rhizosphere effect on fungal richness. The composition of bacterial and fungal communities (β-diversity) was significantly modified by intercropping, while bacterial richness (Chao1) was comparable between the two planting patterns. Network analysis revealed that Actinobacteria, α- and γ-proteobacteria dominated bulk soil and rhizosphere microbial co-occurrence networks in each planting pattern. Intercropping systems induced a more complex rhizosphere microbial community and a more modular and stable bulk soil microbial network. Keystone taxa prevailed in intercropping systems and were Actinobacteria-dominated. Overall, planting patterns and soil compartments, not plant identities, differentiated root-associated microbiomes. Intercropping can modify the co-occurrence patterns of bulk soil and rhizosphere microorganisms in desert ecosystems. These findings provided a potential strategy for us to manipulate desert soil microbial communities and optimize desert species allocation in vegetation sustainability.