Total RNA sequencing reveals multilevel microbial community changes and functional responses to wood ash application in agricultural and forest soil

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Recycling of wood ash from energy production may counteract soil acidification and return essential nutrients to soils. However, wood ash amendment affects soil physicochemical parameters that control composition and functional expression of the soil microbial community. Here, we applied total RNA sequencing to simultaneously assess the impact of wood ash amendment on the active soil microbial communities and the expression of functional genes from all microbial taxa. Wood ash significantly affected the taxonomic (rRNA) as well as functional (mRNA) profiles of both agricultural and forest soil. Increase in pH, electrical conductivity, dissolved organic carbon and phosphate were the most important physicochemical drivers for the observed changes. Wood ash amendment increased the relative abundance of the copiotrophic groups Chitinonophagaceae (Bacteroidetes) and Rhizobiales (Alphaproteobacteria) and resulted in higher expression of genes involved in metabolism and cell growth. Finally, total RNA sequencing allowed us to show that some groups of bacterial feeding protozoa increased concomitantly to the enhanced bacterial growth, which shows their pivotal role in the regulation of bacterial abundance in soil.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfiaa016
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number3
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • biodiversity, metatranscriptomics, protozoa, soil biota, total RNA, wood ash

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