Effects of mowing dominant grasses on root exudation and soil nitrogen cycling in a natural sod culture apple orchard
We evaluated the effects of mowing dominant grasses on root exudation and soil nitrogen (N) cycling by assessing metabolomics analysis of root exudates, microbial metabolism, the abundance of N-cycling-related prokaryotes, and different forms of N concentrations in soil. The treatments included Polygonum aviculare L. mowing (T1), Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop. mowing (T2), and no mowing as the controls (CK1 and CK2). The results showed that compared with the no mowing control (CK1 and CK2), T1 and T2 root exudates contained 223 (178 up-regulated, 45 down-regulated) and 183 (40 up-regulated, 143 down-regulated) differential metabolites, respectively. The average well colour development (AWCD) could reflect the microbial metabolic activity. The AWCD values of T1 were increased while that of T2 decreased on the 2nd day after mowing. The variation in root exudates was the main reason for the change in soil AWCD values and carbon utilisation of T1 and T2 on the 2nd day after mowing. Mowing increased soil microbial biomass N content significantly in the T1 and T2 topsoil. The NO3–-N and NH4+-N contents in the 0–10 cm soil increased on the 2nd day after T1 mowing with an increase in the nitrogenase iron protein gene (nifH), glutamate dehydrogenase gene (gdh), ammonia monooxygenase gene (amoA) of ammonia-oxidising archaea (AOA) and ammonia-oxidising bacteria (AOB) abundance. However, NO3–-N content decreased on the 2nd day after T2 mowing following a decrease in AOA-amoA and AOB-amoA gene abundance. The results of this study will facilitate the optimisation of sod culture orchard N management, reduction of N fertiliser input, and improvement of N utilisation efficiency.
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