iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Response of soil bacterial communities to nitrogen and phosphorus additions in an age-sequence of subtropical forests

Yunza Dai, Huiling Wang, Mengyuan Chen, Dandan Wang, Xiaoqin Cao, Bingyin Chu, Xiaoniu Xu   

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 14, Issue 1, Pages 71-79 (2021)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3655-013
Published: Feb 11, 2021 - Copyright © 2021 SISEF

Research Articles

With global nitrogen (N) deposition continuously increasing, few reports exist describing how soil bacteria respond at the molecular level to long-term addition of excess N in variously aged forests. To reveal the responses of soil bacteria to the elevated N, an experiment was conducted with a chronic nutrient addition within differently aged stands (46-, 78-, and 200-years-old) in the northern subtropical China since 2011, including three treatments, CK (no N nor phosphorus (P) additions), N treatment (N, 100 kg N ha-1), and N with P (N+P, 100 kg N ha-1 + 50 kg P ha-1) to examine potential P limitation under N deposition. Metagenomic sequencing was used to examine the snapshot responses of soil bacterial communities. Soil moisture and texture, ammonium, nitrate, SOC (soil organic carbon), TN (soil total nitrogen), TP (total phosphorus), DOC (dissolved organic carbon), DON (dissolved organic nitrogen) were measured to explain the influence mechanism of forest age and fertilization on changes of microbial community. Following N addition, soil bacterial community diversity and most dominant phyla increased, but they showed a decrease with increasing stand age. The effects of fertilization on the same taxa were variable across forest ages. Soil bacterial community responded differently in 7-year fertilization, with distinct shift in 46-year-old forest and adaptability to long-term N addition in the 200-year-old forest. Soil texture and moisture, DOC, DON, pH, SOC/TN and TP were significantly correlated with bacterial community across stand ages, while N fertilization affected the bacterial community mostly via inducing soil moisture, NO3--N, DOC and pH in the 46-year-old forest, whose effects decreased with increasing stand age. Our results suggest that due to the variation of soil physicochemical properties among forest ages, soil bacterial communities are more stable and resilient to N deposition with increasing the age of stands. Soil bacterial communities might not encounter P limitation following the long-term addition of N in the subtropics.


Nitrogen Deposition, Subtropical Evergreen Broadleaved Forest, Forest Age, Metagenomic, Soil Bacterial Community

Authors’ address

Yunza Dai
Huiling Wang
Mengyuan Chen
Dandan Wang
Xiaoqin Cao 0000-0003-3894-1079
Bingyin Chu
Xiaoniu Xu 0000-0003-4126-2130
School of Forestry & Landscape Architecture, Anhui Agricultural University, Hefei 230036 (PR China)

Corresponding author



Dai Y, Wang H, Chen M, Wang D, Cao X, Chu B, Xu X (2021). Response of soil bacterial communities to nitrogen and phosphorus additions in an age-sequence of subtropical forests. iForest 14: 71-79. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3655-013

Academic Editor

Maurizio Ventura

Paper history

Received: Sep 17, 2020
Accepted: Dec 10, 2020

First online: Feb 11, 2021
Publication Date: Feb 28, 2021
Publication Time: 2.10 months

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