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Biochar Impacts Soil Microbial Community Composition and Nitrogen Cycling in an Acidic Soil Planted with Rape

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journal contribution
posted on 19.08.2014, 00:00 authored by Hui-Juan Xu, Xiao-Hui Wang, Hu Li, Huai-Ying Yao, Jian-Qiang Su, Yong-Guan Zhu
Biochar has been suggested to improve acidic soils and to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. However, little has been done on the role of biochar in ameliorating acidified soils induced by overuse of nitrogen fertilizers. In this study, we designed a pot trial with an acidic soil (pH 4.48) in a greenhouse to study the interconnections between microbial community, soil chemical property changes, and N2O emissions after biochar application. The results showed that biochar increased plant growth, soil pH, total carbon, total nitrogen, C/N ratio, and soil cation exchange capacity. The results of high-throughput sequencing showed that biochar application increased α-diversity significantly and changed the relative abundances of some microbes that are related with carbon and nitrogen cycling at the family level. Biochar amendment stimulated both nitrification and denitrification processes, while reducing N2O emissions overall. Results of redundancy analysis indicated biochar could shift the soil microbial community by changing soil chemical properties, which modulate N-cycling processes and soil N2O emissions. The significantly increased nosZ transcription suggests that biochar decreased soil N2O emissions by enhancing its further reduction to N2.