The quantity and quality of plant-derived resources are the primary factors regulating soil microbial communities, however, the top-down control of soil fauna on the soil food web is still underexplored. To integrate bottom-up and top-down forces in mediating soil microbial communities, we evaluated six plant species rhizosphere microbial community structure (indicated by multiple PLFA biomarkers) and functioning (indicated by four different enzyme activities) in the presence and absence of seven adult Metaphire guillelmi earthworms. Six plant species with two legume species (Trifolium repens and Medicago sativa), two grass species (Arundo donax and Lolium perenne) and two grain crops (Triticum aestivum and Zea mays) were used varying with resource demand and nutrient acquisition strategies. We found earthworms led to increasing in similarity of rhizosphere microbial community structure across all studied plant species. For example, the variability of the fungi: bacteria and gram-positive: gram-negative ratios across six plant species was reduced in the presence of earthworms. Furthermore, earthworms generally supported enzyme production in acquiring carbon over nitrogen and phosphorus, and enhanced immobilization sink for N in microbial biomass, suggesting earthworms are more beneficial for microbes in acquiring energy as plant roots-produced enzyme mostly targeted on nutrients. In conclusion, our results revealed a context-dependent earthworm effects on microbial community structure and a general pattern of earthworms in shifting enzyme production across different plant species.
- Enzyme activity
- Microbial nutrient acquisition
- Plant species
- Soil fauna
- Top-down control