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Biology and Fertility of Soils
(Article in Press):

Microbial response of soils with organic and conventional management history to the cultivation of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)-maize under climate chamber conditions

Andreas Fließbach, Bruno Nietlispach, Monika Messmer, Ana-Sue Rodríguez-Romero, Paul Mäder

Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Ackerstrasse, Postfach 5070, Frick, Switzerland.


An experiment was carried out in a climate chamber to analyse if Bt-maize may cause particular changes in soils with different levels of microbial biomass and activity due to long-term management history. Among the soils selected, the ones managed organically for 30 years exhibited twice the microbial biomass and 2.6 times the dehydrogenase activity (DHA) of the soil from a field with long-term conventional maize monoculture. Soils were cultivated twice in a row with Bt-maize, its near-isogenic line and a conventional breeding line. We tested the hypotheses that (a) soil microbial biomass and activity are affected by the cultivation of Bt-maize and that (b) the influence of Bt-maize depends on the level of soil microbial biomass and activity. Shoot and root yield and shoot C-content of Bt-maize were higher than the ones of the near-isogenic line. DHA under Bt-maize was 6 % higher, and the metabolic quotient for CO2 (qCO2) was 9 % lower than under its near-isogenic line, giving some support to hypothesis (a). No significant interactions of the soils and the varieties used were found in this study, thus hypothesis (b) was not confirmed, and soils with different microbial biomass and activity appear to react in a similar way to the cultivation of Bt-maize.

Keywords: Bt-maize; Soil fertility; GMO; Microbial biomass; Soil respiration; Dehydrogenase activity; Mycorrhiza



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