Agricultural intensification weakens soil multifunctionality by reducing fungal diversity

Elsevier, Applied Soil Ecology, Volume 189, September 2023, 104900
Rui Xue, Chong Wang, Lei Zhao, Jia Cao, Mengli Liu, Dong Zhang

Agricultural intensification is known to impact the soil microbial diversity and community structure, which are responsible for soil multifunctionality. Although the contributions of fungal and bacterial diversity to soil multifunctionality in natural ecosystems have been extensively studied, little is known about the research in intensive agroecosystems. Therefore, intensively-managed farmland, farmland abandoned 10 years and farmland abandoned for 44 years investigated as a gradient of intensity of farmland management. The results showed that agricultural intensification reduced fungal Shannon diversity and weakened soil multifunctionality. Fungal diversity was the major driver of soil multifunctionality. Structural equation modeling was used to identify the effects of soil abiotic properties (soil organic carbon and soil total nitrogen), and fungal and bacterial communities on multifunctionality. Our model predicted 64.0 % of the variation in soil multifunctionality, and confirmed that fungal diversity was positively associated with multifunctionality. These results suggest that sustaining microbial diversity, especially fungal diversity might be a means of reducing the effect of agricultural intensification on soil multifunctionality.