Soil microbial restoration strategies for promoting climate-ready prairie ecosystems.
Docherty KM, Gutknecht JLM
Ecol Appl. Jan 2019. doi: 10.1002/eap.1858
COMMENT: Soil microbial restoration practices are used to produce climate-ready ecosystems, a major challenge faced by land managers, farmers and restoration scientists. Little is known about whether addition of whole communities including bacteria and fungi can improve belowground ecosystem services and carbon storage.
we conducted a multi-factorial greenhouse experiment as a pilot study to examine the effects of plant species richness, soil amendment and elevated temperature on newly- restored soil bacterial and fungal community structure, function and soil carbon storage
Overall, our results suggest that at ambient temperatures, changes in the plant community feed changes in soil microbial communities, but when temperatures increase, plant-driven differences in microbial communities are reduced.
Cellulose addition selects against taxa with faster growth rates, favoring some oligotrophic taxa.
Our results demonstrate that coupling addition of cellulose to soils during restoration plus use of heat and drought-tolerant grasses can lead to selection of microbial communities that have higher fungal biomass and slower-growing bacterial taxa.
If temperatures continue to increase, our results suggest cellulose addition may still be useful, but fungal biomass will not increase with cellulose addition, as fungi are likely outcompeted by faster-growing bacterial taxa.
Further strategies are necessary to promote climate-ready restoration practices that are well integrated to promote both above- and belowground ecosystems, including developing novel soil communities that are adapted to both heat and carbon retention.