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A Single Application of Compost Can Leave Lasting Impacts on Soil Microbial Community Structure and Alter Cross-Domain Interaction Networks


Our current understanding suggests that nutrient management strategies applied to agricultural soils over multiple years are required to cause major and stable shifts in soil microbial communities. However, some studies suggest that agricultural soils can benefit even from sporadic, single additions of organic matter. Here we investigate how single additions of high-quality organic matter can cause significant shifts in microbial soil communities over multiple cropping cycles. We grew radishes in a tropical Oxisol soil for six crop cycles after a single application of a high-nitrogen compost or urea. At planting and before biomass harvest, we sampled soils influenced by the radish rhizosphere and sequenced bacterial and archaeal 16S and fungal ITS rDNA marker genes. We measured microbial richness and diversity, community composition and structure, and constructed correlation networks to predict cross-domain microbial interactions. We found that a single application of compost, compared to urea or control, resulted in a persistent improved plant biomass response and led to sustained changes in the soil microbial community throughout the duration of the 227-day study. Compost altered the structure of both the fungal and prokaryotic microbial communities, introduced new microorganisms that persisted in the resident soil system, and altered soil microbial correlation network structure and hub taxa. In contrast, fertilization with urea did not significantly alter the structure of soil microbial communities compared to the control but reduced network complexity and altered hub taxa. This study highlights the significant impacts that high-quality organic matter fertilization can exert on agricultural soil microbiomes and adds to the growing body of knowledge on using organic fertilizers as a way to steer the soil microbiome toward a healthier soil.

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