Land use change alters the structure and composition of microbial communities. However, the links between environmental factors and microbial functions are not well understood. Here we interrogated the functional structure of soil microbial communities across different land uses. In a multivariate regression tree analysis of soil physicochemical properties and genes detected by functional microarrays, the main factor that explained the different microbial community functional structures was C : N ratio. C : N ratio showed a significant positive correlation with clay and soil pH. Fields with low C : N ratio had an overrepresentation of genes for carbon degradation, carbon fixation, metal reductase, and organic remediation categories, while fields with high C : N ratio had an overrepresentation of genes encoding dissimilatory sulfate reductase, methane oxidation, nitrification, and nitrogen fixation. The most abundant genes related to carbon degradation comprised bacterial and fungal cellulases; bacterial and fungal chitinases; fungal laccases; and bacterial, fungal, and oomycete polygalacturonases. The high number of genes related to organic remediation was probably driven by high phosphate content, while the high number of genes for nitrification was probably explained by high total nitrogen content. The functional gene diversity found in different soils did not group the sites accordingly to land management. Rather, the soil factors, C : N ratio, phosphate, and total N, were the main factors driving the differences in functional genes across the fields examined.
Kuramae, E. E., Zhou, J., Kowalchuk, G. A., & Van Veen, J. A. (2014). Soil-borne microbial functional structure across different land uses. The Scientific World Journal, 2014, 216071. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/216071