Phenylalanine-mediated changes in the soil bacterial community promote nitrogen cycling and plant growth Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Soil amino acids (AAs) are the most active components of soil N, which can be mineralized or absorbed by bacteria as N and C sources. We hypothesized that exogenous AAs could regulate the bacterial community and affect soil N cycling, and the effect sizes could vary depending on individual AAs. Here, we applied feather (keratin)-based compost rich in AAs to Poncirus trifoliata (L.) to evaluate the regulation of bacterial community by AAs; furthermore, we applied six individual AAs to test their effects. The compost significantly increased soil hydrolysable AA content, ammonia monooxygenase gene abundance, and plant growth and changed bacterial community structure. Redundancy analysis revealed that the effects of AAs on the bacterial community composition were greater than those of soil chemical properties, and phenylalanine (Phe) was the most effective among thirteen individual AAs. When applied individually, Phe caused the greatest increase in N cycling-related enzyme activity and plant growth and most significantly altered the bacterial community structure among the six exogenous AAs. Notably, Phe significantly increased the relative abundances of Burkholderia-Caballeronia-Paraburkholderia, Azospirillum, Cupriavidus, and Achromobacter, whose abundances were significantly positively correlated with plant biomass, and significantly reduced the relative abundances of Arachidicoccus, Pseudopedobacter, Sphingobacterium, and Paenibacillus, whose abundances were significantly negatively correlated with plant biomass. We demonstrate that soil AAs strongly shape the bacterial community. Particularly, Phe enhances N cycling and plant growth by increasing the potentially beneficial bacterial taxa and inhibiting the potentially harmful bacterial taxa, which needs further validation.


  • Feng, Zengwei
  • Xie, Xiaolin
  • Wu, Peidong
  • Chen, Meng
  • Qin, Yongqiang
  • Zhou, Yang
  • Zhu, Honghui
  • Yao, Qing

publication date

  • October 2023