Invasive earthworms alter forest soil microbiomes and nitrogen cycling

Jeonghwan Jang, Xianyi Xiong, Chang Liu, Kyungsoo Yoo, Satoshi Ishii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Northern hardwood forests in formerly glaciated areas had been free of earthworms until exotic European earthworms were introduced by human activities. The invasion of exotic earthworms is known to dramatically alter soil physical, geochemical, and biological properties, but its impacts on soil microbiomes are still unclear. Here we show that the invasive earthworms alter soil microbiomes and ecosystem functioning, especially for nitrogen cycling. We collected soil samples at different depths from three sites across an active earthworm invasion chronosequence in a hardwood forest in Minnesota, USA. We analyzed the structures and the functional potentials of the soil microbiomes by using amplicon sequencing, high-throughput nitrogen cycle gene quantification (NiCE chip), and shotgun metagenomics. Both the levels of earthworm invasion and soil depth influenced the microbiome structures and the functional gene abundances. In the most recently and minimally invaded soils, Nitrososphaera and Nitrospira as well as the genes related to nitrification were more abundant than in the heavily invaded soils. By contrast, genes related to denitrification and nitrogen fixation were more abundant in the heavily invaded than the minimally invaded soils at various depths. Since denitrification can cause a nitrogen loss from the ecosystem, our results suggest the invasion of earthworms could influence the overall forest N cycling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108724
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Volume171
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Marshal Landrum and Hao Wang for technical assistance, and Adrian Wackett for valuable comments. This research was supported by the MnDRIVE Initiative (to SI) and the CFANS Bridge & Development Grant (to KY and SI) of the University of Minnesota. This study was done, in part, by using the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute's resources.

Funding Information:
We thank Marshal Landrum and Hao Wang for technical assistance, and Adrian Wackett for valuable comments. This research was supported by the MnDRIVE Initiative (to SI) and the CFANS Bridge & Development Grant (to KY and SI) of the University of Minnesota . This study was done, in part, by using the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute's resources.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Earthworms
  • Forest soil
  • Invasive species
  • Microbiome
  • Nitrogen cycling

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