Agricultural practices change soil’s physical and chemical properties, therefore modifying soil microbial communities. Conservation tillage is widely used to improve the soil texture and nutrient status in the dryland regions of northern China. However, little is known about the influence of soil properties on microbes, in particular on the effect of conservation tillage on soil bacterial communities. Here, we studied the effect of a 5-year tillage treatment on soil properties and soil bacterial communities in the dryland regions of northern China using a high-throughput sequencing technology and quantitative PCR of 16S rRNA genes. We compared the changes in soil bacterial diversity, and composition was measured for conservation tillage, including zero plow or chisel plow, and for conventional tillage using plow. Our results show that conservation tillage increased the Simpson index by 378 % and exhibited significantly dissimilar polygenetic diversity, with r of 1, and taxonomic diversity, of r higher than 0.49, compared to conventional tillage. This finding demonstrates that conservation tillage modifies soil bacterial diversity. Chisel plow and zero tillage increase the abundance of the genus Bacillus, including 85 % of the phylum Firmicutes, and of Rhizobiales belonging to the Alphaproteobacteria. Overall conservation tillage increased the abundance of profitable functional bacteria species.
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