The response of microbial composition and enzyme activities to hydrological gradients in a riparian wetland

  • Lixia Wang
  • Baixing Yan
  • Shiv O. Prasher
  • Yang OuEmail author
  • Yu Bian
  • Hu Cui
Soils, Sec 4 • Ecotoxicology • Research Article



Hydrological condition is one of the important factors impacting microbial structure in riparian wetlands. However, how these microbial communities respond to different hydrological gradients through environmental factors remains uncertain. The main objective of this research was to identify soil microbial community structure under various water levels in a wetland and provide instructive information for assessing wetland function.

Materials and methods

Soil samples were collected from sampling plots under different hydrological conditions. Soil parameters, including total nitrogen (TN), available nitrogen (AN), total phosphorus (TP), available phosphorus (AP), soil organic carbon (SOC), and dissolved organic carbon (DOC), were utilized to identify the effect of different hydrological conditions on soil properties. The quantity and abundance of phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) and enzyme activities (alkaline phosphatase, urease, and invertase) were utilized to evaluate variation of microbial community.

Results and discussion

The PLFA of bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes accounted for 80.64–85.09%, 9.09–12.23%, and 5.06–6.02% of the total PLFA in wetland soil, respectively. Soil water content showed significant correlation with microbial PLFA and enzyme activities. Long-term inundation led to substantial alteration in the microbial biomass and structure. The redundancy analysis (RDA) identified that AN and AP were the critical factors impacting the structure of microbial community, and AP and SOC were principal factors to soil enzyme activities.


Soil water content was the principal controlling factor in the formation of special environment for microbial community. The perennial flooded condition stimulated the increase of bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes through changing AN and AP levels. Thus, the relation between microbial community and hydrological gradients was significantly impacted by soil nutrition.


Enzyme activity Hydrological gradients Phospholipid fatty acid Redundancy analysis Wetland 


Funding information

The authors would like to acknowledge the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA23060402), National Natural Science Foundation of China (41771505 & 41571480), and Chinese Scholarship Council for funding the present work.


  1. Allison SD, Vitousek PM (2005) Responses of extracellular enzymes to simple and complex nutrient inputs. Soil Biol Biochem 37:937–944CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allison VJ, Condron LM, Peltzer DA, Richardson SJ, Turner BL (2007) Changes in enzyme activities and soil microbial community composition along carbon and nutrient gradients at the Franz Josef chronosequence, New Zealand. Soil Biol Biochem 39:1770–1781CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andersen R, Chapman SJ, Artz RRE (2013) Microbial communities in natural and disturbed peatlands: a review. Soil Biol Biochem 57:979–994CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Artz RRE, Chapman SJ, Campbell CD (2006) Substrate utilisation profiles of microbial communities in peat are depth dependent and correlate with whole soil FTIR profiles. Soil Biol Biochem 38:2958–2962CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baddam R, Reddy GB, Raczkowski C, Cyrus JS (2016) Activity of soil enzymes in constructed wetlands treated with swine wastewater. Ecol Eng 91:24–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bardgett RD, Lovell RD, Hobbs PJ, Jarvis SC (1999) Seasonal changes in soil microbial communities along a fertility gradient of temperate grasslands. Soil Biol Biochem 31:1021–1030CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Birgander J, Rousk J, Olsson PA (2014) Comparison of fertility and seasonal effects on grassland microbial communities. Soil Biol Biochem 76:80–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bossio DA, Scow KM (1998) Impacts of carbon and flooding on soil microbial communities: phospholipid fatty acid profiles and substrate utilization patterns. Microb Ecol 35:265–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bossio DA, Fleck JA, Scow KM, Fujii R (2006) Alteration of soil microbial communities and water quality in restored wetlands. Soil Biol Biochem 38:1223–1233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brockett BFT, Prescott CE, Grayston SJ (2012) Soil moisture is the major factor influencing microbial community structure and enzyme activities across seven biogeoclimatic zones in western Canada. Soil Biol Biochem 44(1):9–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Buyer JS, Teasdale JR, Roberts DP, Zasada IA, Maul JE (2010) Factors affecting soil microbial community structure in tomato cropping systems. Soil Biol Biochem 42(5):831–841CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Card SM, Quideau SA (2010) Microbial community structure in restored riparian soils of the Canadian prairie pothole region. Soil Biol Biochem 42:1463–1471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cui LH, Ouyang Y, Gu WJ, Yang WZ, Xu QL (2013) Evaluation of nutrient removal efficiency and microbial enzyme activity in a baffled subsurface-flow constructed wetland system. Bioresour Technol 146:656–662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Devries FT, Manning P, Tallowin JRB, Mortimer SR, Pilgrim ES, Harrison KA, Hobbs PJ, Quirk H, Shipley B, Cornelissen JHC, Kattge J, Bardgett RD (2012) Abiotic drivers and plant traits explain landscape-scale patterns in soil microbial communities. Ecol Lett 15(11):1230–1239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Drenovsky RE, Vo D, Graham KJ, Scow KM (2004) Soil water content and organic carbon availability are major determinants of soil microbial community composition. Microb Ecol 48(3):424–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fierer N, Schimel JP, Holden PA (2003) Variations in microbial community composition through two soil depth profiles. Soil Biol Biochem 35(1):167–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fixen PE, Grove JH, Westerman RL (1990) Testing soils for phosphorus. In: Soil testing and plant analysis, vol 3. SSSA book series, pp. 141–180Google Scholar
  18. Frostegård Å, Tunlid A, Bååth E (2011) Use and misuse of PLFA measurements in soils. Soil Biol Biochem 43(8):1621–1162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Glaser B, Turrión MB, Alef K (2004) Amino sugars and muramic acid—biomarkers for soil microbial community structure analysis. Soil Biol Biochem 36:399–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Heikkinen K, Karppinen A, Karjalainen SM, Postila H, Hadzic M, Tolkkinen M, Martila H, Lhme R, Klove B (2018) Long-term purification efficiency and factors affecting performance in peatland-based treatment wetlands: an analysis of 28 peat extraction sites in Finland. Ecol Eng 117:153–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hentschel K, Borken W, Matzner E (2007) Leaching losses of inorganic N and DOC following repeated drying and wetting of a spruce forest soil. Plant Soil 300:21–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hogberg MN, Hogberg P, Myrold DD (2007) Is microbial community composition in boreal forest soils determined by pH, C-to-N ratio, the trees, or all three. Oecologia 150:590–601CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hu Y, Wang L, Tang YS, Li YL, Chen JH, Xi XF, Fu XH, Wu LH, Sun Y (2014) Variability in soil microbial community and activity between coastal and riparian wetlands in the Yangtze River estuary–potential impacts on carbon sequestration. Soil Biol Biochem 70:221–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huguet V, Rudgers JA (2010) Covariation of soil bacterial composition with plant rarity. Appl Environ Microbiol 76:7665–7667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jaatinen K, Fritze H, Laine J, Laiho R (2007) Effects of short- and long-term water-level drawdown on the populations and activity of aerobic decomposers in a boreal peatland. Glob Chang Biol 13:491–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kamble PN, Gaikwad VB, Kuchekar SR, Bååth E (2014) Microbial growth, biomass, community structure and nutrient limitation in high pH and salinity soils from Pravaranagar (India). Eur J Soil Biol 65:87–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kim SY, Lee SH, Freeman C, Fenner N, Kang H (2008) Comparative analysis of soil microbial communities and their responses to the short-term drought in bog, fen, and riparian wetlands. Soil Biol Biochem 40(11):2874–2880CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kimura M, Asakawa S (2006) Comparison of community structures of microbiota at main habitats in rice field ecosystems based on phospholipid fatty acid analysis. Bio Fertil Soils 43:20–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kleinman PJ, Sharpley AN, Gartley K, Jarrell WM, Kuo S, Menon RG, Myers R, Reddy KR, Skogley EO (2001) Interlaboratory comparison of soil phosphorus extracted by various soil test methods. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 32:2325–2345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kourtev PS, Ehrenfeld JG, Häggblom M (2002) Exotic plant species alter the microbial community structure and function in the soil. Ecology 83:3152–3166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Li X, Sun J, Wang H (2017) Changes in the soil microbial phospholipid fatty acid profile with depth in three soil types of paddy fields in China. Geoderma 290:69–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Liang Q, Chen H, Gong Y, Yang H, Fan M, Kuzyakov Y (2014) Effects of 15 years of manure and mineral fertilizers on enzyme activities in particle-size fractions in a North China Plain soil. Eur J Soil Biol 60:112–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Liu L, Gundersen P, Zhang T, Mo J (2012) Effects of phosphorus addition on soil microbial biomass and community composition in three forest types in tropical China. Soil Biol Biochem 44(1):31–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Liu L, Zhang T, Gilliam FS, Gundersen P, Zhang W, Chen H, Mo J (2013) Interactive effects of nitrogen and phosphorus on soil microbial communities in a tropical forest. PloS one 8(4):e61188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Liu S, Zheng R, Guo X, Wang X, Chen L, Hou Y (2019) Effects of yak excreta on soil organic carbon mineralization and microbial communities in alpine wetlands of southwest of China. J Soils Sediments 19:1490–1498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lou YJ, Pan YW, Gao CY, Jiang M, Lu XG, Xu YJ (2016) Response of plant height, species richness and aboveground biomass to flooding gradient along vegetation zones in floodplain wetlands, Northeast China. PlosOne 11(4):e0153972CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ma Z, Zhang M, Xiao R, Cui Y, Yu F (2017) Changes in soil microbial biomass and community composition in coastal wetlands affected by restoration projects in a Chinese delta. Geoderma 289:124–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. MacKenzie MD, Quideau SA (2010) Microbial community structure and nutrient availability in oil sands reclaimed boreal soils. Appl Environ Microbiol 44(1):32–41Google Scholar
  39. Mchergui C, Besaury L, Langlois E, Aubert M, Akpa-Vinceslas M, Buatois B, Quillet L, Bureau F (2014) A comparison of permanent and fluctuating flooding on microbial properties in an ex-situ estuarine riparian system. Appl Environ Microbiol 78:1–10Google Scholar
  40. Moon JB, Wardrop DH, Bruns MAV, Miller RM, Naithani KJ (2016) Land-use and land-cover effects on soil microbial community abundance and composition in headwater riparian wetlands. Soil Biol Biochem 97:215–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Morris SJ, Boerner REJ (1999) Spatial distribution of fungal and bacterial biomass in southern Ohio hardwood forest soils: scale dependency and landscape patterns. Soil Biol Biochem 31(6):887–902CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Murphy J, Riley JP (1962) A modified single solution method for determination of phosphate in natural waters. Anal Chim Acta 27:31–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Orwin KH, Wardle DA, Greenfield LG (2006) Ecological consequences of carbon substrate identity and diversity in a laboratory study. Ecology 87:580–593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ou Y, Rousseau AN, Wang LX, Yan BX, Gumiere T, Zhu H (2019) Identification of the alteration of riparian wetland on soil properties, enzyme activities and microbial communities following extreme flooding. Geoderma 337:825–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pennanen T, Liski J, Baath E, Kitunen V, Uotila J, Westman CJ, Fritze H (1999) Structure of the microbial communities in coniferous forest soils in relation to site fertility and stand development stage. Microb Ecol 38:168–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Peralta AL, Ludmer S, Kent AD (2013) Hydrologic history influences microbial community composition and nitrogen cycling under experimental drying/wetting treatments. Soil Biol Biochem 66:29–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Potthoff M, Steenwerth KL, Jackson LE, Drenovsky RE, Scow KM, Joergensen RG (2006) Soil microbial community composition as affected by restoration practices in California grassland. Soil Biol Biochem 38(7):1851–1860CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ramirez KS, Craine JM, Fierer N (2012) Consistent effects of nitrogen amendments on soil microbial communities and processes across biomes. Glob Chang Biol 18(6):1918–1927CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Reed HE, Martiny JB (2007) Testing the functional significance of microbial composition in natural communities. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 62:161–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rickerl DH, Sancho FO, Ananth S (1994) Vesicular-arbuscular endomycorrhizal colonization of wetland plants. J Environ Qual 23(5):913–916CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rousk J, Brookes PC, Bååth E (2010) The microbial PLFA composition as affected by pH in an arable soil. Soil Biol Biochem 42:516–520CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sánchez-Rodríguez AR, Nie C, Hill PW, Chadwick DR, Jones DL (2019) Extreme flood events at higher temperatures exacerbate the loss of soil functionality and trace gas emissions in grassland. Soil Biol Biochem 130:227–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Schimel JP, Gulledge JAY (1998) Microbial community structure and global trace gases. Glob Chang Biol 4:745–758CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schoug Å, Fischer J, Heipieper HJ, Schnürer J, Håkansson S (2008) Impact of fermentation pH and temperature on freeze-drying survival and membrane lipid composition of Lactobacillus coryniformis Si3. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol 35(3):175–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Tabatabai MA, Bremner JM (1972) Assay of urease activity in soils. Soil Biol Biochem 4:479–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Theriot JM, Conkle JL, Pezeshki SR, DeLaune RD, White JR (2013) Will hydrologic restoration of Mississippi River riparian wetlands improve their critical biogeochemical functions? Ecol Eng 60:192–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tian J, Dippold M, Pausch J, Blagodatskaya E, Fan M, Li X, Kuzyakov Y (2013) Microbial response to rhizodeposition depending on water regimes in paddy soils. Soil Biol Biochem 65:195–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Tornberg K, Bååth, Olsson S (2003) Fungal growth and effects of different wood decomposing fungi on the indigenous bacterial community of polluted and unpolluted soils. Biol Fertil Soils 37(3):190–197Google Scholar
  59. Trinder CJ, Artz RRE, Johnson D (2008) Contribution of plant photosynthate to soil respiration and dissolved organic carbon in a naturally recolonising cutover peatland. Soil Biol Biochem 40:1622–1628CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Unger IM, Kennedy AC, Muzika RM (2009) Flooding effects on soil microbial communities. Appl Environ Microbiol 42:1–8Google Scholar
  61. Weyer C, Peiffer S, Lischeid G (2018) Stream water quality affected by interacting hydrological and biogeochemical processes in a riparian wetland. J Hydrol 563:260–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Williamson WM, Wardle DA, Yeates GW (2005) Changes in soil microbial and nematode communities during ecosystem decline across a long-term chronosequence. Soil Biol Biochem 37:1289–1301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wu SQ, Chang JJ, Dai Y, Wu ZB, Liang W (2013) Treatment performance and microorganism community structure of integrated vertical-flow constructed wetland plots for domestic wastewater. Environ Sci Pol 20:3789–3798CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Xiong YM, Xia HX, Li ZA, Cai XA, Fu SL (2008) Impacts of litter and understory removal on soil properties in a subtropical Acacia mangium plantation in China. Plant Soil 304:179–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Xu SQ, Wang YD, Guo CC, Zhang ZG, Shang YT, Chen Q, Wang ZL (2017) Comparison of microbial community composition and diversity in native coastal wetlands and wetlands that have undergone long-term agricultural reclamation. Wetlands 37:99–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Yu S, Ehrenfeld JG (2010) Relationships among plants, soils and microbial communities along a hydrological gradient in the New Jersey Pinelands, USA. Ann Bot-London 105:185–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Yuan Y, Dai XQ, Xu M, Wang HM, Fu XL, Yang FT (2015) Responses of microbial community structure to land-use conversion and fertilization in southern China. Eur J Soil Biol 70:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zhang QC, Shamsi IH, Xu DT, Wang GH, Lin XY, Jilani G, Hussain N, Chaudhry AN (2012) Chemical fertilizer and organic manure inputs in soil exhibit a vice versa pattern of microbial community structure. Appl Environ Microbiol 57:1–8Google Scholar
  69. Zhang XH, Song CC, Mao R, Yang GS, Tao BX, Shi FX, Zhu XY, Hou A (2014) Litter mass loss and nutrient dynamics of four emergent macrophytes during aerial decomposition in freshwater marshes of the Sanjiang plain, Northeast China. Plant Soil 385(1–2):139–147Google Scholar
  70. Zou J, Liu X, He C, Zhang X, Zhong C, Wang C, Wei J (2013) Effect of Scripus triqueter of its rhizosphere and root exudates on microbial community structure of simulated diesel-spiked wetland. Int Biodeterior Biodegradation 82:110–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lixia Wang
    • 1
  • Baixing Yan
    • 1
  • Shiv O. Prasher
    • 2
  • Yang Ou
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yu Bian
    • 1
  • Hu Cui
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Environment, Northeast Institute of Geography and AgroecologyChinese Academy of SciencesChangchunPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Bioresource Engineering Department, Macdonald CampusMcGill UniversitySainte-Anne-de-BellevueCanada
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations