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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2005

Activity and composition of the denitrifying bacterial community respond differently to long-term fertilization

Enwall K, Philippot L, Hallin S


The objective of this study was to explore the long-term effects of different organic and inorganic fertilizers on activity and composition of the denitrifying and total bacterial communities in arable soil. Soil from the following six treatments was analyzed in an experimental field site established in 1956: cattle manure, sewage sludge, Ca(NO3)(2), (NH4)(2)SO4, and unfertilized and unfertilized bare fallow. All plots but the fallow were planted with corn. The activity was measured in terms of potential denitrification rate and basal soil respiration. The nosZ and narG genes were used as functional markers of the denitrifying community, and the composition was analyzed using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of nosZ and restriction fragment length polymorphism of narG, together with cloning and sequencing. A fingerprint of the total bacterial community was assessed by ribosomal intergenic spacer region analysis (RISA). The potential denitrification rates were higher in plots treated with organic fertilizer than in those with only mineral fertilizer. The basal soil respiration rates were positively correlated to soil carbon content, and the highest rates were found in the plots with the addition of sewage sludge. Fingerprints of the nosZ and narG genes, as well as the RISA, showed significant differences in the corresponding communities in the plots treated with (NH4)(2)SO4 and sewage sludge, which exhibited the lowest pH. In contrast, similar patterns were observed among the other four treatments, unfertilized plots with and without crops and the plots treated with Ca(NO3)(2) or with manure. This study shows that the addition of different fertilizers affects both the activity and the composition of the denitrifying communities in arable soil on a long-term basis. However, the treatments in which the denitrifying and bacterial community composition differed the most did not correspond to treatments with the most different activities, showing that potential activity was uncoupled to community composition

Published in

Applied and Environmental Microbiology
2005, Volume: 71, number: 12, pages: 8335-8343

    SLU Authors

    • UKÄ Subject classification

      Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
      Agricultural Science

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