Researchers address the dynamics of soil microbial community structure and stoichiometry

Forest conversion has a significant influence on the structure and stoichiometry of the soil microbial community (SMC). Soil microbial stoichiometry is connected to SMC structure and plays a major role in the control of carbon (C) and nutrient (e.g., nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P)) cycling. However, it is currently unknown how SMC structure and stoichiometry adapt to long-term forest conversion.

Researchers address the dynamics of soil microbial community structure and stoichiometry
RDA of soil microbial groups and environmental factors across forests at (a) 0-10, (b) 10-30, and (c) 30-60 cm depths. Image Credit: Wuhan Botanical Garden.

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Wuhan Botanical Garden studied the development of soil microbial C: N: P stoichiometry and SMC structure and their interactions at three soil depths (0-10, 10-30, and 30-60 cm) by designing and building a long-term (36 years) forest conversion circumstance in the subtropical region of China.

Scientists discovered that soil microbial C: N: P stoichiometry was highly or completely homeostatic depending on dissolved organic resources for more than three decades following forest conversion, regardless of soil depth. At each level, soil microbial stoichiometry was separated from SMC Structure.

Furthermore, available resources (quality or quantity) and the environment (i.e., the microclimate in surface soils) may be simultaneously regulating SMC structure, with minimal indicators of nutrient constraint on the SMC structure.

This study shows that, after forest conversion, carbon dynamics in forests is likely to reach resilience or re-equilibrate, underlining the necessity of forest management through reforested plantations for long-term soil carbon sustainability.

Journal reference:

Zhao, R., et al. (2022) Soil microbial stoichiometry and community structure responses to long-term natural forest conversion to plantations in a subtropical region. Environmental Science and Pollution Research.


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