Dominant plant species shape soil bacterial community in semiarid sandy land of northern China

Shaokun Wang, Xiaoan Zuo, Xueyong Zhao, Tala Awada, Yongqing Luo, Yuqiang Li, Hao Qu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Plant species affect soil bacterial diversity and compositions. However, little is known about the role of dominant plant species in shaping the soil bacterial community during the restoration of sandy grasslands in Horqin Sandy Land, northern China. We established a mesocosm pots experiment to investigate short-term responses of soil bacterial diversity and composition, and the related soil properties in degraded soils without vegetation (bare sand as the control, CK) to restoration with five plant species that dominate across restoration stages: Agriophyllum squarrosum (AS), Artemisia halodendron (AH), Setaria viridis (SV), Chenopodium acuminatum (CA), and Corispermum macrocarpum (CM). We used redundancy analysis (RDA) to analyze the association between soil bacterial composition and soil properties in different plant species. Our results indicated that soil bacterial diversity was significantly lower in vegetated soils independent of plant species than in the CK. Specifically, soil bacterial species richness and diversity were lower under the shrub AH and the herbaceous plants AS, SV, and CA, and soil bacterial abundance was lower under AH compared with the CK. A field investigation confirmed the same trends where soil bacteria diversity was lower under AS and AH than in bare sand. The high-sequence annotation analysis showed that Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Bacteroidetes were the most common phyla in sandy land irrespective of soil plant cover. The OTUs (operational taxonomic units) indicated that some bacterial species were specific to the host plants. Relative to bare sand (CK), soils with vegetative cover exhibited lower soil water content and temperature, and higher soil carbon and nitrogen contents. The RDA result indicated that, in addition to plant species, soil water and nitrogen contents were the most important factors shaping soil bacterial composition in semiarid sandy land. Our study from the pot and field investigations clearly demonstrated that planting dominant species in bare sand impacts bacterial diversity. In semiarid ecosystems, changes in the dominant plant species during vegetation restoration efforts can affect the soil bacterial diversity and composition through the direct effects of plants and the indirect effects of soil properties that are driven by plant species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1693-1704
Number of pages12
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • 16S rRNA gene
  • Horqin Sandy Land
  • dominant plant species
  • high-throughput sequencing
  • sand dunes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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