Effect of organic matter manipulation on the seasonal variations in microbial composition and enzyme activities in a subtropical forest of China

  • Xiaohua Wan
  • Xiang Li
  • Changpeng Sang
  • Zhihong Xu
  • Zhiqun HuangEmail author
Soils, Sec 1 • Soil Organic Matter Dynamics and Nutrient Cycling • Research Article



The aim of this study was to determine the impacts of reduced aboveground and belowground C inputs on the community composition of soil microbes and enzyme activities in a seasonal context.

Materials and methods

Litterfall removal, root exclusion, and stem girdling treatments under a subtropical conifer plantation growing on a coarse texture of sandy soil in southeast China were employed. One year after the initiation of the treatments, we measured the soil microbial biomass, community composition, and enzyme activities, including hydrolytic and oxidative extracellular enzymes on a seasonal basis. Soil inorganic N, dissolved organic C and N, and available P were also determined.

Results and discussion

Seasonal variations of soil microbial composition and enzyme activities were attributed to soil temperature and moisture and soil nutrient availability. Girdling treatments significantly increased the abundances of gram-negative bacteria and actinomycetes in winter when soil temperature, moisture, and available nutrients were at the lowest level among the four seasons. Girdling alone and girdling combined with litter removal and root trenching significantly decreased the cellobiohydrolase, β-glucosidase, β-1,4-N-acetylglucosaminidase, and acid phosphatase activities in autumn. These hydrolytic enzyme activities were significantly correlated with soil moisture, NH4+, DOC, and available P. We also found a significant relationship between hydrolytic enzyme activities and the ratio of gram-positive to gram-negative bacteria.


Plant belowground C allocation, soil temperature, and moisture drove the seasonal patterns of soil microbial composition and enzyme activities. Labile C input by root exudates is a key determinant of ecosystem functions mediated by soil microbes such as microbial decomposition processes.


Enzyme activity Girdling Litterfall removal Root trenching Soil microbial composition 


Funding information

The research was supported by the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars (31625007), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41371269 and 31600495), Fujian Natural Science Foundation (2018J01714), and the project funded by Education Department of Fujian Province (JAT160113).

Supplementary material

11368_2019_2300_MOESM1_ESM.docx (49 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 49 kb).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaohua Wan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiang Li
    • 3
  • Changpeng Sang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhihong Xu
    • 4
  • Zhiqun Huang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Mountain Ecology (Funded by Ministry of Science and Technology and Fujian Province)Fujian Normal UniversityFuzhouChina
  2. 2.College of Geographical ScienceFujian Normal UniversityFuzhouChina
  3. 3.Maintenance Branch Company of State Grid Fujian Electric Power Co., Ltd.FuzhouChina
  4. 4.Environmental Futures Research Institute, School of Natural SciencesGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

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