PLoS One. 2018 Dec 31;13(12):e0209089. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209089. eCollection 2018.
Agriculture is undergoing important changes in order to meet sustainable soil management with respect to biodiversity (namely agroecology). Within this context, alternative solutions to mineral fertilizers such as agricultural biostimulants are thus promoted and being developed. The mechanisms by which some soil biostimulants sustain soil biological functioning and indirectly increase crop yields are still unknown. Our goal in the present study was to demonstrate if and to what extent the application of a soil biostimulant affects the soil heterotrophic microbial communities that are involved in organic matter decomposition and carbon mineralization. We hypothesized that the addition of a biostimulant results in changes in the composition and in the biomass of soil microbial communities. This in turn increases the mineralization of the organic matter derived from crop residues. We performed soil microcosm experiments with the addition of crop residues and a biostimulant, and we monitored the organic carbon (orgC) mineralization and the microbial biomass, along with the microbial community composition by sequencing 16S rRNA gene and ITS amplicons. The addition of a soil biostimulant caused a pH neutralizing effect and simultaneous enhancement of the orgC mineralization of crop residues (+ 400 μg orgC g-1 dry soil) and microbial biomass (+ 60 μg orgC g-1 dry soil) that were linked to changes in the soil microbial communities. Our findings suggest that the soil carbon mineralization enhancement in the presence of the biostimulant was supported by the specific recruitment of soil bacteria and fungi. Whereas archaea remained stable, several operational taxonomic units (OTUs) of indigenous soil bacteria and fungi were enriched and affiliated with known microbial decomposers such as Cytophagaceae, Phaselicystis sp., Verrucomicrobia, Pseudomonas sp., Ramicandelaber sp., and Mortierella sp., resulting in lower soil microbial richness and diversity.
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