Soil solarization is a widespread, nonchemical agricultural practice for disinfesting soils, which is often used in combination with organic amendment, and whose action represents an important factor impacting on soil bacterial communities structure and population dynamics.The present study was conducted to investigate whether and to which extent a 72-day plot-scale soil solarization treatment, either combinedor not with organic amendment, could stimulate compositional changes in the genetic structure of indigenous soil bacterial communities. Soil solarization with transparent polyethylene film, in combination or not with farmyard manure addition, was carried out during a summer period on a clay loam agricultural soil located in Southern Italy. Soils from a four-treatment (NS, nonsolarized control soil; S, solarized soil;MA, manure-amended nonsolarized soil; MS, manure-amended and solarized soil) plot block were sampled after 0, 8, 16, 36 and 72 days.Compositional shifts in the genetic structure of indigenous soil bacterial communities were monitored by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) fingerprinting of 16S rRNA gene fragments amplified from soil-extracted community DNA using primers specific for Bacteria, Actinomycetales, a- and b-Proteobacteria. Changes in soil temperature, pH, and electrical conductivity (EC1:1) were also monitored from 0 to 72 days. Beneath the polyethylene film the average soil temperature at 8-cm depth reached 55 8C compared to 35 8C in nonsolarized soil. In general, without amendment both soil pH and EC1:1 were not significantly affected by solarization, whereas in manured plots either variables were greatly increased (from 7.0 to 8.0 pH and from 271 to 3021 mS cm-1 EC1:1), and both showed long-lasting effects due to soil solar heating. The eubacterial DGGE profiles revealed that soil solarization was the main factor inducing strong time-dependent population shifts in the community structure either in unamended or amended soils. Conversely, the addition of organic amendment resulted in an altered bacterial community, which remained rather stable over time. A similar behaviour was also observed in the DGGE patterns of b-proteobacterial and actinomycete populations, and also, albeit to a lesser extent, in the DGGE profiles of a-Proteobacteria. An increased bacterial richness was evidenced by DGGE fingerprints in 16- and 36-day samplings, followed by a decrease appearing in 72-day samplings.This could be explained, other than by a direct thermal effect on soil microflora, by solarization-induced changes in the physico-chemicalproperties of soil microbial habitats or by other ecological factors (e.g. decreased competitiveness of dominating bacterial species, reduced grazing pressure of microfaunal predators, increased nutrient availability).
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