Land use shapes the resistance of the soil microbial community and the C cycling response to drought in a semi-arid area.


CEBAS-CSIC, Campus Universitario de Espinardo, PO Box 164, CP 30100 Murcia, Spain. Electronic address: [Email]


The aim of this study was to understand the responses of the microbial community of soil under different land uses to drought in a semi-arid Mediterranean area. In a laboratory incubation, soil samples from different land uses (natural forest, drip-irrigated orchard, rain-fed almond tree cultivation and abandoned area) were maintained at 20% and 60% of the WHC. The microbial biomass and potential enzyme activities were determined after four and fifty days of soil incubation. The diversity and composition of the microbial community were studied after 50 days of incubation. The total mineralisation of soil organic C (SOC), as well as, the mineralisation of fresh organic matter (FOM) and the "priming effect" were analysed after addition of 13C-enriched plant tissue. Both land use and drought had significant effects in the soil microbial community, but the effect of land use was stronger than that of drought. The PLFA content (microbial biomass) of the forests soil was greater under drought. After 50 days of soil incubation, the microbial biomass and most of potential enzyme activities of the almond tree and abandoned soil samples were not significantly affected by drought contrary to those in orchard soil. The total and FOM mineralisation were on average lower in soil under drought than under optimal moisture for all land uses. However, the responses of the priming effect to drought were dependent on the land use. Overall, we conclude that the resistance to drought of the soil microbial community from an agroecosystem having a semi-arid climate is strongly influenced by the previous land use.


Carbon cycling,Drought,Land use,Priming effect,Semiarid agroecosystem,Soil microbial community,