Microbial Community Composition as Affected by Dryland Cropping Systems and Tillage in a Semiarid Sandy Soil


This study evaluated microbial communities of soil (0–10 cm) as affected by dryland cropping systems under different tillage practices after 5 years. The soil type was an Olton sandy loam with an average of 16.4% clay, 67.6% sand and 0.65 g kg−1 of organic matter (OM). The cropping systems evaluated were grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L.)—cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) (Srg-Ct), cotton-winter rye (Secale cereale)-grain sorghum (Ct-Rye-Srg), and a rotation of forage (f) sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. and Sorghum sudanense) with winter rye (Srf-Rye), which were under no-tillage (nt) and conventional tillage (ct) practices. Soil microbial communities under cotton based cropping systems (Srg-Ct and Ct-Rye-Srg) showed lower fungal:bacterial ratios compared to the soil under Srf-Rye. Soil under Srf-Rye showed higher population densities of Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria while lower Actinobacteria compared to Srg-Ct and Ct-Rye-Srg. Chloroflexi, Gemmatimonadetes and Verrucomicrobiae were higher in tilled soil compared to the no-tilled plots. Regardless the limited irrigation available to sustain agricultural production within these dryland cropping systems, this study demonstrated that differences in microbial communities are more affected by crop rotation than tillage management history. Although soil fungal diversity was not analyzed in this study, pyrosequencing suggests that tillage practices can affect bacterial phyla distribution in this sandy soil.


© 2010 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).


Pyrosequencing, Soil Microbial Communities, Bacterial Diversity, FAME Analysis, Enzyme Activities, Cropping Systems, Tillage, GRACEnet


Acosta-Martínez V, Dowd SE, Bell CW, Lascano R, Booker JD, Zobeck TM, Upchurch DR. Microbial Community Composition as Affected by Dryland Cropping Systems and Tillage in a Semiarid Sandy Soil. Diversity. 2010; 2(6):910-931. https://doi.org/10.3390/d2060910