Effect of different grazing intensities on bacterial community composition and diversity in rhizosphere and non-rhizosphere soils in desert steppe of China

Guogang Zhang1, Jing Huang1, Meiqing Jia2*, Wei Huang1, Xin Sui1, Zhongwu Wang3, 4, and Guodong Han3, 4

Degradation and desertification are extremely significant environmental problems in arid and semi-arid grassland ecosystems. Long-term overgrazing is the most fundamental cause of grassland degradation. We investigated relationships between grazing intensity and bacterial communities in non-rhizospheric and rhizospheric soils in desert steppe, including 0-10, 10-20 and 20-30 cm depth soils, as well as Stipa breviflora Griseb., Cleistogenes songorica (Roshev.) Ohwi, Artemisia frigida Willd. and plant community rhizospheric soils. This involved simulating grazing intensities in a long-term localization experiment, using a randomized block design. The effects of grazing on non-rhizospheric soil bacterial abundance were reflected in the 0-10 cm layer, increasing under light grazing and decreasing rapidly under moderate and heavy grazing, mainly related to Bacillus. Bacterial abundance in dominant plant rhizosphere responded differently. In A. frigida Willd. Rhizosphere, it decreased with increasing grazing intensity (a trend repeated in mixed rhizosphere). Bacterial abundance in S. breviflora and C. songorica rhizosphere increased under light and decreased under moderate and heavy grazing. Thus, changes in the dominant plant rhizospheric bacterial community did not significantly affect bacterial abundance in mixed rhizosphere. Changes in the rhizospheric bacterial abundance mainly resulted from levels of the dominant species, Streptomyces and Arthrobacter. There were significantly different results for bacterial community structure. Specifically, grazing had a nonsignificant and significant impact on bacterial community structures in non-rhizospheric (FPERMANOVA = 1.38, p = 0.199) and rhizospheric (FPERMANOVA = 2.03, p = 0.012) soil, respectively, varying significantly among plants (FPERMANOVA = 1.9, p = 0.022). In conclusion, bacterial communities in rhizosphere were mainly affected by plant species and were more sensitive to changing grazing intensity than in non-rhizospheric soil.

Key words: Desert steppe, grazing intensity, non-rhizosphere, rhizosphere, soil bacteria.

1Tianjin Normal University, College of Life Sciences, Tianjin 300387, Tianjin, P.R. China. *Corresponding author (jiameiqing@tjnu.edu.cn).
2Tianjin Normal University, Key laboratory of Water Resource and Environment, Tianjin 300387, Tianjin, P.R. China.
3Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, College of Grassland, Resources and Environment, Hohhot 010019, Inner Mongolia. P.R. China.
4Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Key Laboratory of the Ministry of Grassland Resources Education, Hohhot 010019, Inner Mongolia, P.R. China.

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