Soil bacterial community response to rhizoma peanut incorporation into Florida pastures
Incorporating legumes is one option for improving pasture fertility, sustainability, and biodiversity. Diazotrophic microorganisms, including rhizobia that form symbioses with legumes, represent a small fraction of the total soil microbial community. Yet, they can offset nitrogen (N) fertilizer inputs, through their ability to convert atmospheric N2 into plant-usable N via biological N2 fixation (BNF). This study utilized amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA genes to investigate soil bacterial community composition and diversity in grazed ‘Argentine’ bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flügge) pastures where N fertilizer was supplanted with legume derived N from BNF in some treatments. Treatments consisted of bahiagrass fertilized with 1) mineral N (224 kg N ha–1yr–1), 2) combination mineral N (34 kg N ha–1yr–1) and legume derived N via cool-season clover (Trifolium spp.) mix, or 3) combination mineral N (34 kg N ha–1yr–1), and legume derived N via cool-season clover mix and strips of Ecoturf rhizoma peanut (Arachis glabrata Benth.). Bradyrhizobium spp. relative abundance was 44% greater in the mixed pasture. Other bacterial genera with BNF or denitrification potentials were greater in pastures with legumes, while sequences assigned to genera associated with high litter turnover were greater in bahiagrass pastures receiving only mineral N. Soil bacteria alpha diversity was greater in pastures receiving 34 kg ha–1 yr–1 N fertilizer application and the cool-season clover mix than in pastures with the cool-season clover mix and rhizoma peanut strips. Our results demonstrate soil microbial community shifts that may affect soil C and N cycling in pastures common to the southeastern United States.