While soil erosion drives land degradation, the impact of erosion on soil microbial communities and multiple soil functions remains unclear. This hinders our ability to assess the true impact of erosion on soil ecosystem services and our ability to restore eroded environments. Here we examined the effect of erosion on microbial communities at two sites with contrasting soil texture and climates. Eroded plots had lower microbial network complexity, fewer microbial taxa, and fewer associations among microbial taxa, relative to non-eroded plots. Soil erosion also shifted microbial community composition, with decreased relative abundances of dominant phyla such as Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Gemmatimonadetes. In contrast, erosion led to an increase in the relative abundances of some bacterial families involved in N cycling, such as Acetobacteraceae and Beijerinckiaceae. Changes in microbiota characteristics were strongly related with erosion-induced changes in soil multifunctionality. Together, these results demonstrate that soil erosion has a significant negative impact on soil microbial diversity and functionality.
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Acknowledgements We thank Prof. Fenli Zheng from Northwest A&F University and Prof. Yun Xie from Beijing Normal University for the help with sampling, and Weibo Kong and Yufei Yao for the help with statistical analysis. This study was supported, in part, by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB40020000 and XDA23070202), the National Key Research and Development Program (2018YFC0507001 and 2016YFC0500704), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41977068 and 41622105), programs from Chinese Academy of Sciences (QYZDB-SSW-DQC039), and the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station (to M.J.S. and Q.Z.).
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to International Society for Microbial Ecology.
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