Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 883–902 | Cite as

Long-term greenhouse vegetable cultivation alters the community structures of soil ammonia oxidizers

  • Xing LiuEmail author
  • Ying Zhang
  • Xiujuan Ren
  • Bihua Chen
  • Changwei Shen
  • Fei Wang
Soils, Sec 5 • Soil and Landscape Ecology • Research Article



Continuous cropping obstacles derived from long-term intensive cultivation has severely affected the healthy development of greenhouse vegetable industry in China. The alterations in soil microbial communities are commonly thought to be the important reasons behind continuous cropping obstacles. However, little attention is focused on soil functional microorganisms, such as soil ammonia oxidizers, which convert NH3 to NO2 in soils and play an important role in terrestrial ecosystem N cycling.

Materials and methods

With the help of quantitative real-time PCR and high-throughput sequencing methods, this study investigated the effects of consecutive greenhouse vegetable cultivation on the abundances and community structures of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and bacteria (AOB).

Results and discussion

Continuous greenhouse production significantly affected soil physicochemical properties but slightly influenced on soil biochemical properties. Long-term greenhouse production significantly decreased soil potential nitrification rates. The abundances of AOA and AOB were insensitive to continuous greenhouse cultivation, whereas their community structures were significantly altered. A significant increase in average relative abundance of Nitrososphaerales Clade B4 in AOA community was observed after long-term greenhouse cultivation but just the opposite for Nitrososphaerales Clade Nitrososphaera. Increasing greenhouse cultivation years decreased the average relative abundance of Nitrosospira in AOB community, and their ecological niches were gradually occupied by Nitrosomonas; consequently, Nitrosomonas dominated AOB community under long-term greenhouse vegetable cultivation. Soil physicochemical properties, but not biological activity, were directly linked to the shifts of community structures of ammonia oxidizers. Moisture and total nitrogen significantly regulated AOA community structure, whereas organic matter and salinity mediated that of AOB.


Our results demonstrated that consecutive greenhouse production obviously affected soil N turnover through altering community structures of nitrifiers, and soil functional microorganisms should be taken more attention when exploring the mechanisms for continuous cropping obstacles of greenhouse vegetable. The current study also highlights the fast adaptation of both AOA and AOB communities to complexly varied soil physicochemical environments.


Greenhouse vegetable production Potential nitrification rate Soil ammonia oxidizers Soil biological activity Soil physicochemical properties 



We gratefully acknowledge the support for this research from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number 41601250). The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interests.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resources and Environmental SciencesHenan Institute of Science and TechnologyXinxiang CityPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Horticulture Landscape ArchitectureHenan Institute of Science and TechnologyXinxiang CityPeople’s Republic of China

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