Dryland Cropping Systems, Weed Communities, and Disease Status Modulate the Effect of Climate Conditions on Wheat Soil Bacterial Communities

mSphere. 2020 Jul 15;5(4):e00340-20. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00340-20.


Little knowledge exists on how soil bacteria in agricultural settings are impacted by management practices and environmental conditions in current and predicted climate scenarios. We assessed the impact of soil moisture, soil temperature, weed communities, and disease status on soil bacterial communities in three cropping systems: (i) conventional no-till (CNT) systems utilizing synthetic pesticides and herbicides, (ii) USDA-certified tilled organic (OT) systems, and (iii) USDA-certified organic systems with sheep grazing (OG). Sampling date within the growing season and associated soil temperature and moisture exerted the greatest effect on bacterial communities, followed by cropping system, Wheat streak mosaic virus (WSMV) infection status, and weed community. Soil temperature was negatively correlated with bacterial richness and evenness, while soil moisture was positively correlated with bacterial richness and evenness. Soil temperature and soil moisture independently altered soil bacterial community similarity between treatments. Inoculation of wheat with WSMV altered the associated soil bacteria, and there were interactions between disease status and cropping system, sampling date, and climate conditions, indicating the effect of multiple stressors on bacterial communities in soil. In May and July, cropping system altered the effect of climate change on the bacterial community composition in hotter conditions and in hotter and drier conditions compared to ambient conditions, in samples not treated with WSMV. Overall, this study indicates that predicted climate modifications as well as biological stressors play a fundamental role in the impact of cropping systems on soil bacterial communities.IMPORTANCE Climate change is affecting global moisture and temperature patterns, and its impacts are predicted to worsen over time, posing progressively larger threats to food production. In the Northern Great Plains of the United States, climate change is forecast to increase temperature and decrease precipitation during the summer, and it is expected to negatively affect cereal crop production and pest management. In this study, temperature, soil moisture, weed communities, and disease status had interactive effects with cropping system on bacterial communities. As local climates continue to shift, the dynamics of above- and belowground associated biodiversity will also shift, which will impact food production and increase the need for more sustainable practices.

Keywords: 16S rRNA gene; Illumina MiSeq; climate change; conventional; grazing; organic; tillage; wheat streak mosaic virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Climate Change*
  • Microbiota*
  • Plant Diseases / virology
  • Potyviridae / pathogenicity
  • Seasons
  • Soil / chemistry
  • Soil Microbiology*
  • Temperature
  • Triticum / virology
  • United States


  • Soil

Supplementary concepts

  • Wheat streak mosaic virus