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Journal of Basic Microbiology
Vol. 55 (1), 2015, Pages: 22–32

Effects of application of corn straw on soil microbial community structure during the maize growing season

Ping Lu, Yin-Hua Lin, Zhong-Qi Yang, Yan-Peng Xu, Fei Tan, Xu-Dong Jia, Miao Wang, De-Rong Xu and Xi-Zhuo Wang

Institute of Wetland Research, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing, China.


This study investigated the influence of corn straw application on soil microbial communities and the relationship between such communities and soil properties in black soil. The crop used in this study was maize (Zea mays L.). The five treatments consisted of applying a gradient (50, 100, 150, and 200%) of shattered corn straw residue to the soil. Soil samples were taken from May through September during the 2012 maize growing season. The microbial community structure was determined using phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis. Our results revealed that the application of corn straw influenced the soil properties and increased the soil organic carbon and total nitrogen. Applying corn straw to fields also influenced the variation in soil microbial biomass and community composition, which is consistent with the variations found in soil total nitrogen (TN) and soil respiration (SR). However, the soil carbon-to-nitrogen ratio had no effect on soil microbial communities. The abundance of PLFAs, TN, and SR was higher in C1.5 than those in other treatments, suggesting that the soil properties and soil microbial community composition were affected positively by the application of corn straw to black soil. A Principal Component Analysis indicated that soil microbial communities were different in the straw decomposition processes. Moreover, the soil microbial communities from C1.5 were significantly different from those of CK (p<0.05). We also found a high ratio of fungal-to-bacterial PLFAs in black soil and significant variations in the ratio of monounsaturated-to-branched fatty acids with different straw treatments that correlated with SR (p<0.05). These results indicated that the application of corn straw positively influences soil properties and soil microbial communities and that these properties affect these communities. The individual PLFA signatures were sensitive indicators that reflected the changes in the soil environment condition.

Keywords: Phospholipid fatty acid;Microbial community;Soil properties;Black soil.

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