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The effects of afforestation on soil bacterial communities in temperate grassland are modulated by soil chemical properties.

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PubMed ID: 30648012

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Wu SH, Huang BH, Gao J, Wang S, Liao PC

PeerJ. 2019. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6147

COMMENT:  After grassland afforestation, abiotic, biotic and ecological function changes occur in the soil ecosystem what might break the stasis of soil physicochemical properties and the dynamic balance of microbiota.

The aim of this study is to quantify the effect of afforestation on soil properties and soil bacterial composition and functions. For that, they collected soil pit samples from 20 quadrants, 10 from an afforested region and 10 from an adjacent grassland. Soil bacteria and chemical composition were measured in the samples.

Based on results obtained in different studies, the authors hypothesized:

(1) The soil prokaryotic microbiome is indirectly affected by afforestation mediated by soil chemical properties.
(2) Soil bacterial ecological functions are more sensitive to changes in vegetation type than changes in soil bacterial composition.

The authors suggest the changes in the soil properties were probably due to the vegetation changes produced by afforestation. These changes also might produce indirectly an underground biotic change.

Finally, they concluded that afforestation could change the chemical properties and composition of the soil, affecting the ecological functions and diversity of bacterial communities.

Future work could focus on the link between anthropogenic actions on vegetation and indicator species such as Planctomycetes or iron bacteria such as Comamonadaceae.

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Carmen Martín