Soil inoculum identity and rate jointly steer microbiomes and plant communities in the field

Xu Han, Yingbin Li, Yuhui Li, Xiaofang Du, Bing Li, Qi Li, T. Martijn Bezemer

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Inoculation with soil from different ecosystems can induce changes in plant and soil communities and promote the restoration of degraded ecosystems. However, it is unknown how such inoculations influence the plant and soil communities, how much inoculum is needed, and whether inocula collected from similar ecosystems will steer soil and plant communities in different directions. We conducted a three-year soil inoculation experiment at a degraded grassland and used two different soil inocula both from grasslands with three inoculation rates. We measured the development of the soil and plant communities over a period of three years. Our results show that soil inoculation steers the soil microbiome and plant communities at the inoculated site into different directions and these effects were stronger with higher amount of soil used to inoculate. Network analyses showed that inoculation with upland meadow soil introduced more genera occupying the central position in the biotic network and resulted in more complex networks in the soil than inoculation with meadow steppe soil. Our findings emphasize that there are specific effects of donor soil on soil microbiomes as well as plant communities and that the direction and speed of development depend on the origin and the amount of soil inoculum used. Our findings have important implications for the restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in degraded grassland ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number59 (2022)
JournalISME Communications
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2022


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