This investigation examines the effect of manipulating soil microbial community composition and species richness on the development of soil structure over a seven month period in planted (with or without mycorrhizal fungi) and in unplanted macrocosms. The dilution method effectively resulted in soil communities with consistently contrasting levels of species (TRF) richness. In particular, the 10 -6 dilution of field soil resulted in less rich communities in bare unplanted soil than did the 10 -1 soil dilution. However, this was not the case in planted soils where root activity was a powerful influence on species richness. After seven months, principal components analysis (PCA) separated bacterial community composition primarily on planting regime; planted mycorrhizal, planted non-mycorrhizal and bare soil treatments all contained different bacterial community compositions. A consistent finding in planted and unplanted soils was that aggregate stability was positively correlated with small pore sizes. Mycorrhizal colonisation decreased plant biomass and also resulted in reduced soil bacterial species richness, lower percentage organic matter and smaller pore sizes relative to planted but non-mycorrhizal soils. However, soil aggregate stability and water repellency were increased in these (mycorrhizal) soils probably due to AMF hyphal activities including enmeshment and/or glomalin production. In contrast, bacterial TRF richness was positively correlated with aggregate stability in the bare and non-mycorrhizal planted soils. Soil organic carbon was an important factor in all treatments, but in the bare soil where there was no additional input of labile C from roots, the percentage C could be directly related to fungal TRF richness. The less species rich bare soil contained more organic C than the more species rich bare soil. This suggests a degree of redundancy with regard to mineralisation of organic matter when additional, more utilisable C sources are unavailable. Understanding the effects of microbial diversity on functional parameters is important for advancing sustainable soil management techniques, but it is clear that soil is a dynamic ecosystem. © 2012 Elsevier GmbH.
Martin, S. L., Mooney, S. J., Dickinson, M. J., & West, H. M. (2012). Soil structural responses to alterations in soil microbiota induced by the dilution method and mycorrhizal fungal inoculation. Pedobiologia, 55(5), 271–281. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedobi.2012.06.001