Anthropogenic modification of soil systems has diverse impacts on food web interactions and ecosystem functioning. To understand the positive, neutral or adverse effects of agricultural practices on the associations of community members of soil microbes and microfaunal biomes, we characterized the effects of different fertilization types (organic, inorganic and a combination of organic and inorganic) on the food web active communities in the bulk soil and rhizosphere compartments in field conditions. We examined the influence of fertilization on (i) individual groups (bacteria, protozoa and fungi as microbe representatives and metazoans as microfauna representatives) and (ii) inter-kingdom interactions (focusing on the interactions between bacteria and eukaryotic groups) both neglecting and considering environmental factors in our analysis in combination with the microbial compositional data. Our results revealed different patterns of biota communities under organic versus inorganic fertilization, which shaped food web associations in both the bulk and rhizosphere compartments. Overall, organic fertilization increased the complexity of microbial-microfaunal ecological associations with inter- and intra- connections among categories of primary decomposers (bacteria and fungi) and predators (protozoa and microfauna) and differences in potential function in the soil food web in both the bulk and rhizosphere compartments. Furthermore, the inter-connections between primary decomposers and predators in bulk soil were more pronounced when environmental factors were considered. We suggest that organic fertilization selects bacterial orders with different potential ecological functions and interactions as survival, predation and cooperation due to more complex environment than those of inorganic or combined fertilization. Our findings support the importance of a comprehensive understanding of trophic food web patterns for soil management systems.
Keywords: Active community; Bacteria; Food web; Fungi; Metazoa; Microbial association; Protist.
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