Crop monoculture rather than agriculture reduces the spatial turnover of soil bacterial communities at a regional scale

Environ Microbiol. 2015 Mar;17(3):678-88. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.12497. Epub 2014 Jun 2.


The goal of this study was to investigate the spatial turnover of soil bacterial communities in response to environmental changes introduced by the practices of soybean monoculture or crop rotations, relative to grassland soils. Amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene was used to analyse bacterial diversity in producer fields through three successive cropping cycles within one and a half years, across a regional scale of the Argentinean Pampas. Unlike local diversity, which was not significantly affected by land use type, agricultural management had a strong influence on β-diversity patterns. Distributions of pairwise distances between all soils samples under soybean monoculture had significantly lower β-diversity and narrower breadth compared with distributions of pairwise distances between soils managed with crop rotation. Interestingly, good agricultural practices had similar degree of β-diversity as natural grasslands. The higher phylogenetic relatedness of bacterial communities in soils under monoculture across the region was likely determined by the observed loss of endemic species, and affected mostly to phyla with low regional diversity, such as Acidobacteria, Verrucomicrobia and the candidates phyla SPAM and WS3. These results suggest that the implementation of good agricultural practices, including crop rotation, may be critical for the long-term conservation of soil biodiversity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acidobacteria / classification
  • Acidobacteria / genetics
  • Agriculture
  • Base Sequence
  • Biodiversity
  • Crops, Agricultural / microbiology*
  • Environment
  • Glycine max / microbiology*
  • Microbial Consortia / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Soil
  • Soil Microbiology*
  • Verrucomicrobia / classification
  • Verrucomicrobia / genetics


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Soil