Soil Bacterial Assemblage Across a Production Landscape: Agriculture Increases Diversity While Revegetation Recovers Community Composition

A. R. G. Mason, T. R. Cavagnaro, G. R. Guerin, A. J. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Aboveground ecological impacts associated with agricultural land use change are evident as natural plant communities are replaced with managed production systems. These impacts have been extensively studied, unlike those belowground, which remain poorly understood. Soil bacteria are good candidates to monitor belowground ecological dynamics due to their prevalence within the soil system and ability to survive under harsh and changing conditions. Here, we use soil physicochemical assessment and 16S rRNA gene sequencing to investigate the soil physical and bacterial assemblage changes across a mixed-use agricultural landscape. We assess soil from remnant vegetation (Eucalyptus mallee), new and old vineyards, old pasture, and recently revegetated areas. Elevated concentrations of nitrogen (NO3) and plant-available (Colwell) phosphorus were identified in the managed vineyard systems, highlighting the impact of agricultural inputs on soil nutrition. Alpha diversity comparison revealed a significant difference between the remnant mallee vegetation and the vineyard systems, with vineyards supporting highest bacterial diversity. Bacterial community composition of recently revegetated areas was similar to remnant vegetation systems, suggesting that bacterial communities can respond quickly to aboveground changes, and that actions taken to restore native plant communities may also act to recover natural microbial communities, with implications for soil and plant health. Findings here suggest that agriculture may disrupt the correlation between above- and belowground diversities by altering the natural processes that otherwise govern this relationship (e.g. disturbance, plant production, diversity of inputs), leading to the promotion of belowground microbial diversity in agricultural systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1098-1112
Number of pages15
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number3
Early online date10 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • 16 s rRNA gene sequencing
  • Above and belowground diversity linkage
  • Impacts of agricultural land use
  • Soil microbial diversity
  • Soil physicochemical characteristics


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