Increased Soil Bacterial Abundance but Decreased Bacterial Diversity and Shifted Bacterial Community Composition Following Secondary Succession of Old-Field

Wen Yang, Xinwen Cai, Yaqi Wang, Longfei Diao, Lu Xia, Shuqing An, Yiqi Luo, Xiaoli Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Plant secondary succession is a very effective approach for the rejuvenation of degraded ecosystems. In order to comprehend alterations and driving mechanisms of soil bacterial communities under secondary succession of old-field and reveal their subsequent impacts on the decomposition and accumulation of soil organic carbon (SOC) and nitrogen (SON), we investigated changes in soil bacterial communities following ~160 years of old-field succession on the Loess Plateau of China through analyses of quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and Illumina MiSeq DNA sequencing of 16S rRNA genes. Our results revealed that subsequent to secondary succession of old-field, soil bacterial abundance progressively increased, while bacterial richness and diversity significantly decreased. Principal component analysis and Bray–Curtis similarity index showed that bacterial community composition gradually shifted following old-field succession. Specifically, the relative abundances of Proteobacteria, Rokubacteria, and Verrucomicrobia progressively increased, while Actinobacteria and Firmicutes slightly decreased following old-field succession. The most enriched of Proteobacteria (e.g., Rhizobiales, Xanthobacteraceae, Gammaproteobacteria, Bradyrhizobium, Rhizobiaceae, and Mesorhizobiur) were found in a climax forest, while Chloroflexi and Gemmatimonadetes had the lowest relative abundances. Further, the most enriched members of Actinobacteria, including Geodermatophilaceae, Frankiales, Blastococcus, Micrococcales, Micrococcacea, Propionibacteriales, Nocardioidaceae, Nocardioide, and Streptomycetaceae, were exhibited in the farmland stage. Our results suggested that secondary succession of old-field greatly modified soil bacterial communities via the transformation of soil nutrients levels, altering plant biomass and soil physiochemical properties. Soil bacterial community composition was transformed from oligotrophic groups to copiotrophic Proteobacteria following old-field succession, which may promote SOC and SON accumulation through increasing the utilization of labile organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), while decreasing decomposition of recalcitrant organic C and N from the early- to late-successional stages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1628
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • 16S rRNA gene
  • Loess Plateau
  • bacterial community composition
  • bacterial diversity
  • soil nutrient substrates
  • vegetation restoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry


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