The effects of straw return on soil bacterial diversity and functional profiles: A meta-analysis

Miaomiao Zhang, Pengfei Dang, Bart Haegeman, Xiaoqing Han, Xiaofan Wang, Xuan Pu, Xiaoliang Qin, Kadambot H.M. Siddique

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Returning straw directly to agricultural fields increases soil carbon sequestration and influences soil microbial activities. However, the precise impacts of straw return on soil bacterial diversity, composition, and function profiles remain unclear, necessitating a comprehensive synthesis and standardized analysis. In this study, we conducted a meta-analysis of 729 original bacterial sequencing samples from fields with and without straw return to elucidate how soil bacteria respond to different experimental conditions after straw return (e.g., straw and fertilizer management practices and return duration). Our analysis revealed that overall straw return slightly increased the Chao 1 index while the Shannon index remained unaffected. However, we found strong responses depending on the experimental conditions of straw return. Particularly, bacterial community diversity increased significantly, particularly under high nitrogen, low straw addition, or continuous straw return. Furthermore, straw return altered bacterial community composition, elvating the abundance of Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes, while decreasing Chloroflexi, Firmicutes, and Nitrospirae. Straw return also increased modularity in bacterial co-occurrence networks. Functional annotation analysis highlighted that straw return substantially enriched microbes involved in chemoheterotrophy, nitrogen fixation, and functional groups related to straw decomposition (chitinolysis, cellulolysis, xylanolysis), while inhibiting microbes associated with nitrification and nitrate reduction. Surprisingly, straw return did not impact the relative abundance of plant pathogens. Overall, our findings offer an in-depth understanding the effects of straw return on soil bacterial communities, including increased diversity, modified structure, and enhanced functional profiles related to straw decomposition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109484
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2024


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