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Effect of Fertilizer on the Biodiversity of Microcosms

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Soils teem with life. Representatives of almost every phylum of organism known aboveground also occur in soil. In less than a handful of soil, there can be millions of types of microbes and hundreds of species of microscopic invertebrates

The identities and natural histories of these microscopic flora and fauna and many of the larger, visible soil fauna are the least-known biota in terrestrial ecosystems. However, new evidence is rapidly revealing the major contributions of soil organisms to the maintenance of life on Earth, opening a new frontier for exploration and a rising concern about the loss of soil biodiversity with increasing degradation of the soil habitat locally and globally.

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Soil fauna are critical for ecosystem function and sensitive to the changes of soil fertility. The effects of fertilization on soil fauna communities, however, remain poorly understood. We examined the effects of fertilization form and quantity on the abundance, diversity and composition of soil fauna across an age-sequence of poplar plantations (i.e., 4-, 9- and 20-yr-old) in the coastal region of eastern China. We found that the effects of fertilization on faunal abundance, diversity, and composition differed among stand ages. Organic fertilizers increased the total abundance of soil fauna, whereas low level inorganic fertilizers imparted increases only in the 4- and 9-yr-old stands. The number of faunal groups did not change with fertilization, but Shannon’s and Margalef diversity indices increased under low level organic fertilization, and decreased under inorganic fertilization in the 9- and 20-yr-old stands. Community composition of soil fauna differed strongly with fertilization and stand age. The changes in soil fauna were strongly associated with the changes in microbial biomass carbon, dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen, and available phosphorus and potassium

Soil faunal communities are critical for ecosystem functionality, with respect to direct and indirect interactions with plants, nutrient, and organic matter cycling. The composition and diversity of soil fauna are typically explained by the top-down effects of predators and the bottom-up effects of resource availability. Soil fauna have a strong association with soil nutrient availability and are sensitive to changes in the root and soil physicochemical environments, which may be affected by organic and inorganic fertilizers.

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Sustainable agriculture is an important global issue. The use of organic fertilizers can enhance crop yield and soil properties while restraining pests and diseases. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of long-term use of chemical and organic fertilizers on tea and rhizosphere soil properties in tea orchards. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and high-throughput sequencing technology analyses were used to investigate heavy metals content and bacterial composition in rhizosphere soils. Our results indicated that organic fertilizer treatment significantly decreased Cu, Pb and Cd contents in rhizosphere soil sample. The results also showed that treatment with organic fertilizer significantly decreased the contents of Cd, Pb and As in tea leaves. Furthermore, organic fertilizer significantly increased the amino acids content of tea and the pH of the soil (Li YC, Li ZW, 2018). The use of organic fertilizer significantly increased in the relative abundance of Burkholderiales, Myxococcales, Streptomycetales, Nitrospirales, Ktedonobacterales, Acidobacteriales, Gemmatimonadales, and Solibacterales, and decreased the abundance of Pseudonocardiales, Frankiales, Rhizobiales, and Xanthomonadales

In conclusion, organic fertilizer can help to shape the microbial composition and recruit beneficial bacteria into the rhizosphere of tea, leading to improved tea quality and reduced heavy metals content in rhizosphere soil and tea leaves.The sustainability of agricultural systems is an important global issue (Xu HQ, Xiao RL, 2010). This has resulted in the potential benefits of organic fertilizers application have being highlighted. Organic fertilizers are derived from natural sources (e.g., livestock and poultry excreta, plant residues, biogas residue, and agricultural by-products), and their usage can have a positive impact on pollution.

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Summing up, additions of chemical N and P fertilizers can stimulate primary production and phytoplankton growth and increase nutrient concentrations. During times of nutrient limitation such as mid-summer, chemical fertilization with N and P fertilizers can be used to stimulate primary productivity in multi-use water bodies in order to achieve mesotrophic conditions supporting multiple uses. Using a moderate rate of fertilization may achieve the same effects as higher fertilization rates, reducing costs and decreasing the possibility of bringing about undesirable environmental conditions.

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Xu HQ, Xiao RL, Xiang ZX, Huang Y, Luo W, Qin Z, et al. Effects of different ecological manage-ment on the soil microbial biomass and microbial population of tea plantation in hilly red soil region. Chin J Soil Sci. 2010

Li YC, Li ZW, Lin WW, Jiang YH, Weng BQ, Lin WX. Effects of biochar and sheep manure on rhizospheric soil microbial community in continuous ratooning tea orchards. Chin J Appl Ecol. 2018

Owuor PO, Othieno CO, Kamau DM, Wanyoko JK. Effects of long-term fertilizer use on a high-yielding tea clone AHPS15/10: soil pH, mature leaf nitrogen, mature leaf and soil phosphorus and potassium. Int J Tea Sci. 2011

Yang J, Yang Z, Zou J. Effects of rainfall and fertilizer types on nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in surface runoff from subtropical tea fields in Zhejiang, China. Nutr Cycl Agroecosys. 2012

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