Fertilizing-induced changes in the nitrifying microbiota associated with soil nitrification and crop yield
Hong Yue, Samiran Banerjee, Conghui Liu, Qiyong Ren, Wu Zhang, Baogang Zhang, Xiaohong Tian, Gehong Wei and Duntao Shu
Science of the Total Environment
Ammonia oxidizing archaea (AOA) and bacteria (AOB), nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB), and comammox Nitrospira (CMX) play pivotal roles in global nitrogen-cycling network. Despite its importance, the driving forces for niche specialization of these nitrifiers, as well as their relative contributions to nitrification and crop yield have not been fully understood. Here, we investigated the niche specialization and environmental prevalence of nitrifying communities, and their importance for the nitrification rate and crop yield across a gradient of nitrogen inputs in a two-decade old field experiment. The results of 15N-tracer and quantitative PCR revealed that AOB and NOB jointly determined the gross nitrification rates across mineral fertilizer treatments, whereas AOA and AOB contributed more than other nitrifiers to nitrification under with organic fertilizer amendments. Linear regression model revealed that crop yield could be linked with AOB and NOB under inorganic farming but closely associated with CMX under organic management. Amplicon sequencing of these functional genes further demonstrated that mineral and organic fertilizers have distinct influences on the beta-diversity and niche breadth of these nitrifying communities, indicating that fertilization triggered niche specialization of nitrifying guilds in agricultural soils. Notably, organic fertilization enhanced the network complexity of these nitrifiers by harboring keystone taxa. Random forest analysis provide robustly evidence for the hypothesis that abundance of functional genes contributed more than a- and beta-diversity of these nitrifiers for driving nitrification rates and crop yields. Collectively, these findings provide the empirical evidence for the environmental adaptation and niche specialization of nitrifying communities, and their contributions in nitrification and crop yield when confronted with long-term nitrogen inputs.