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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2019, Vol. 18 Issue (11): 2605-2618    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(19)62759-0
Agro-ecosystem & Environment Advanced Online Publication | Current Issue | Archive | Adv Search |
Soil macroaggregates and organic-matter content regulate microbial communities and enzymatic activity in a Chinese Mollisol
CHEN Xu1, HAN Xiao-zeng1, YOU Meng-yang1, YAN Jun1, LU Xin-chun1, William R. Horwath1, 2, ZOU Wen-xiu1  
1 Key Laboratory of Mollisols Agroecology, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Harbin 150081, P.R.China
2 Biogeochemistry and Nutrient Cycling Laboratory, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California Davis, CA 95616, USA
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The formation and turnover of macroaggregates are critical processes influencing the dynamics and stabilization of soil organic carbon (SOC).  Soil aggregate size distribution is directly related to the makeup and activity of microbial communities.  We incubated soils managed for >30 years as restored grassland (GL), farmland (FL) and bare fallow (BF) for 60 days using both intact and reduced aggregate size distributions (intact aggregate distribution (IAD)<6 mm; reduced aggregate distribution (RAD)<1 mm), in treatments with added glucose, alanine or inorganic N, to reveal activity and microbial community structure as a function of aggregate size and makeup.  Over a 60-day incubation period, the highest phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) abundance was on day 7 for bacteria and fungi, on day 15 for actinomycete.  The majority of the variation in enzymatic activities was likely related to PLFA abundance.  GL had higher microbial abundance and enzyme activity.  Mechanically reducing macroaggregates (>0.25 mm) by 34.7% in GL soil with no substrate additions increased the abundance of PLFAs (average increase of 15.7%) and activities of β-glucosidase (increase of 17.4%) and N-acetyl-β-glucosaminidase (increase of 7.6%).  The addition of C substrates increased PLFA abundance in FL and BF by averages of 18.8 and 33.4%, respectively, but not in GL soil.  The results show that the effect of habitat destruction on microorganisms depends on the soil aggregates, due to a release of bioavailable C, and the addition of substrates for soils with limited nutrient availability.  The protection of SOC is promoted by larger size soil aggregate structures that are important to different aggregate size classes in affecting soil C stabilization and microbial community structure and activity. 
Keywords:  soil macroaggregates        soil organic carbon        PLFAs        enzyme activity       microbial community        Mollisol
Received: 12 March 2019   Accepted:
This study was funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0300806-1,
2016YFD0200309-6 and 2017YFD0300605-3), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41771327 and 41571219), and the Young Scientists’ Group of North Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (DLSXZ1605).
Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence ZOU Wen-xiu, Tel: +86-451-86601048, Fax: +86-451-86603736, E-mail:   
About author:  CHEN Xu, E-mail:;

Cite this article: 

CHEN Xu, HAN Xiao-zeng, YOU Meng-yang, YAN Jun, LU Xin-chun, William R. Horwath, ZOU Wen-xiu . 2019. Soil macroaggregates and organic-matter content regulate microbial communities and enzymatic activity in a Chinese Mollisol. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 18(11): 2605-2618.

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