Microbial community composition and substrate use in a highly weathered soil as affected by crop rotation and P fertilization
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A better understanding of soil microbial processes is required to improve the synchrony between nutrient release from plant residues and crop demand. Phospholipid fatty acid analysis was used to investigate the effect of two crop rotations (continuous maize and maize-crotalaria rotation) and P fertilization (0 and 50 kg P ha(-1) yr(-1), applied as triple superphosphate) on microbial community composition in a highly weathered soil from western Kenya. Microbial substrate use in soils from the field experiment was compared in incubation experiments. Higher levels of soil organic matter and microbial biomass in the maize-crotalaria rotation were connected with higher total amounts of phospholipid fatty acids and an increase in the relative abundances of indicators for fungi and gram-negative bacteria. P fertilization changed the community profile only within the continuous maize treatment. The decomposition of glucose, cellulose and three plant residues (all added at 2.5 g C kg(-1) soil) proceeded faster in soil from the maize-crotalaria rotation, but differences were mostly transient. Microbial P and N uptake within one week increased with the water-soluble carbon content of added plant residues. More P and N were taken up by the greater microbial biomass in soil from the maize-crotal aria rotation than from continuous maize. Re-mineralization of nutrients during the decline of the microbial biomass increased also with the initial biological activity of the soil, but occurred only for a high quality plant residue within the half year incubation period. Compared to the effect of crop rotation, P fertilization had a minor effect on microbial community composition and substrate use. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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