Differential responses of nitrate reducer community size, structure, and activity to tillage systems

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Abstract

The main objective of this study was to determine how the size, structure, and activity of the nitrate reducer community were affected by adoption of a conservative tillage system as an alternative to conventional tillage. The experimental field, established in Madagascar in 1991, consists of plots subjected to conventional tillage or direct-seeding mulch-based cropping systems (DM), both amended with three different fertilization regimes. Comparisons of size, structure, and activity of the nitrate reducer community in samples collected from the top layer in 2005 and 2006 revealed that all characteristics of this functional community were affected by the tillage system, with increased nitrate reduction activity and numbers of nitrate reducers under DM. Nitrate reduction activity was also stimulated by combined organic and mineral fertilization but not by organic fertilization alone. In contrast, both negative and positive effects of combined organic and mineral fertilization on the size of the nitrate reducer community were observed. The size of the nitrate reducer community was a significant predictor of the nitrate reduction rates except in one treatment, which highlighted the inherent complexities in understanding the relationships the between size, diversity, and structure of functional microbial communities along environmental gradients. Copyright © 2009, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

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Chèneby, D., Brauman, A., Rabary, B., & Philippot, L. (2009). Differential responses of nitrate reducer community size, structure, and activity to tillage systems. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 75(10), 3180–3186. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.02338-08

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