Impact of intercropping on the coupling between soil microbial community structure, activity, and nutrient-use efficiencies Academic Article uri icon


  • Sugarcane-soybean intercropping has been widely used to control disease and improve nutrition in the field. However, the response of the soil microbial community diversity and structure to intercropping is not well understood. Since microbial diversity corresponds to soil quality and plant health, a pot experiment was conducted with sugarcane intercropped with soybean. Rhizosphere soil was collected 40 days after sowing, and MiSeq sequencing was utilized to analyze the soil microbial community diversity and composition. Soil columns were used to assess the influence of intercropping on soil microbial activity (soil respiration and carbon-use efficiency: nitrogen-use efficiency ratio). PICRUSt and FUNGuild analysis were conducted to predict microbial functional profiling. Our results showed that intercropping decreased pH by approximately 8.9% and enhanced the soil organic carbon, dissolved organic carbon, and available nitrogen (N) by 5.5%, 13.4%, and 10.0%, respectively. These changes in physicochemical properties corresponded to increased microbial diversity and shifts in soil microbial communities. Microbial community correlated significantly (p < 0.05) with soil respiration rates and nutrient use efficiency. Furthermore, intercropping influenced microbial functions, such as carbon fixation pathways in prokaryotes, citrate cycle (TCA cycle) of bacteria and wood saprotrophs of fungi. These overrepresented functions might accelerate nutrient conversion and control phytopathogens in soil.


  • Lian, Tengxiang
  • Mu, Yinghui
  • Jin, Jian
  • Ma, Qibin
  • Cheng, Yanbo
  • Cai, Zhandong
  • Nian, Hai

publication date

  • 2019

published in