Soil Rehabilitation Promotes Resilient Microbiome with Enriched Keystone Taxa than Agricultural Infestation in Barren Soils on the Loess Plateau

Biology (Basel). 2021 Dec 2;10(12):1261. doi: 10.3390/biology10121261.


Drylands provide crucial ecosystem and economic services across the globe. In barren drylands, keystone taxa drive microbial structure and functioning in soil environments. In the current study, the Chinese Loess plateau's agricultural (AL) and twenty-year-old rehabilitated lands (RL) provided a unique opportunity to investigate land-use-mediated effects on barren soil keystone bacterial and fungal taxa. Therefore, soils from eighteen sites were collected for metagenomic sequencing of bacteria specific 16S rRNA and fungi specific ITS2 regions, respectively, and to conduct molecular ecological networks and construct microbial OTU-based correlation matrices. In RL soils we found a more complex bacterial network represented by a higher number of nodes and links, with a link percentage of 77%, and a lower number of nodes and links for OTU-based fungal networks compared to the AL soils. A higher number of keystone taxa was observed in the RL (66) than in the AL (49) soils, and microbial network connectivity was positively influenced by soil total nitrogen and microbial biomass carbon contents. Our results indicate that plant restoration and the reduced human interventions in RL soils could guide the development of a better-connected microbial network and ensure sufficient nutrient circulation in barren soils on the Loess plateau.

Keywords: Loess soils; agricultural soils; keystone taxa; microbial network; rehabilitated lands.