Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2018, Vol. 10 Issue (5): 737-749    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0014-1
Orginal Article     
Soil microbial activity and community structure as affected by exposure to chloride and chloride-sulfate salts
Qianqian ZHANG1,2,3, A WAKELIN Steven4, Yongchao LIANG5, Guixin CHU1,2,*()
1 College of Life Science, Shaoxing University, Zhejiang 312000, China
2 Department of Resources and Environmental Science, College of Agriculture/the Key Laboratory of Oasis Eco-agriculture of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, Shihezi University, Shihezi 832003, China
3 College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China
4 Department of Forest Systems, Scion Research, Christchurch 8540, New Zealand
5 Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Environment Remediation and Ecological Health, College of Environmental & Resource Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China;
Download: HTML     PDF(430KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      


Mixed or chloride salty ions dominate in saline soils, and exert wide-ranging adversely affect on soil biological processes and soil functions. The objectives of this study were to (1) explore the impacts of mixed (0, 3, 6, 10, 20 and 40 g Cl-/SO42- salt/kg dry soil) and chloride (0, 1.5, 3, 5, 8 and 15 g Cl- salt/kg dry soil) salts on soil enzyme activities, soil physiological functional (Biolog) profiles and microbial community structure by using soil enzymatic, Biolog-Eco microplates as well as denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DEEG) methods, and (2) determine the threshold concentration of soil electronic conductivity (EC1:5) on maintaining the functional and structural diversity of soil microbial community. The addition of either Cl- or mixed Cl-/SO42- salt obviously increased soil EC, but adversely affected soil biological activities including soil invertase activity, soil microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and substrate-induced respiration (SIR). Cl- salt showed a greater deleterious influence than mixed Cl-/SO42- salt on soil enzymes and MBC, e.g., the higher soil MBC consistently appeared with Cl-/SO42- instead of Cl- treated soil. Meanwhile, we found that SIR was more reliable than soil basal respiration (SBR) on explaining the changes of soil biological activity responsive to salt disturbance. In addition, microbial community structures of the soil bacteria, fungi, and Bacillus were obviously affected by both salt types and soil EC levels, and its diversity increased with increasing of mixed Cl-/SO42- salt rates, and then sharply declined down after it reached critical point. Moreover, the diversity of fungal community was more sensitive to the mixed salt addition than other groups. The response of soil physiological profiles (Biolog) followed a dose-response pattern with Cl- (R2=0.83) or mixed Cl-/SO42- (R2=0.89) salt. The critical threshold concentrations of salts for soil physiological function were 0.45 dS/m for Cl- and 1.26 dS/m for Cl-/SO42-, and those for soil microbial community structural diversity were 0.70 dS/m for Cl- and 1.75 dS/m for Cl-/SO42-.

Key wordssoil biological activity      microbial diversity      chloride salt      mixed salt      threshold concentration     
Received: 30 June 2017      Published: 10 October 2018
Corresponding Authors: Guixin CHU     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Qianqian ZHANG, A WAKELIN Steven, Yongchao LIANG, Guixin CHU. Soil microbial activity and community structure as affected by exposure to chloride and chloride-sulfate salts. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(5): 737-749.

URL:     OR

[1] Anderson J P E. 1982. Soil respiration. In: Page A L. Methods of Soil Analysis. Part 2. Chemical and Microbiological Properties (2nd ed.). Wisconsin: Soil Science Society of America, 831-871.
[2] Anderson M J.2001. A new method for non-parametric multivariate analysis of variance. Austral Ecology, 26(1): 32-46.
[3] Batra L, Manna M C.1997. Dehydrogenase activity and microbial biomass carbon in salt-affected soils of semiarid and arid regions. Arid Soil Research and Rehabilitation, 11(3): 295-303.
[4] Capriotti A L, Borrelli G M, Colapicchioni V, et al.2014. Proteomic study of a tolerant genotype of durum wheat under salt-stress conditions. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 406(5): 1423-1435.
[5] Cortés-Lorenzo C, Sipkema D, Rodríguez-Díaz M, et al.2014. Microbial community dynamics in a submerged fixed bed bioreactor during biological treatment of saline urban wastewater. Ecological Engineering, 71: 126-132.
[6] Crecchio C, Gelsomino A, Ambrosoli R, et al.2004. Functional and molecular responses of soil microbial communities under differing soil management practices. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 36(11): 1873-1883.
[7] Crisler J D, Newville T M, Chen F, et al.2012. Bacterial growth at the high concentrations of magnesium sulfate found in Martian soils. Astrobiology, 12(2): 98-106.
[8] Dominati E, Patterson M, Mackay A.2010. A framework for classifying and quantifying the natural capital and ecosystem services of soils. Ecological Economics, 69(9): 1858-1868.
[9] FAO. 2002. The salt of the Earth: hazardous for food production. Food and Agriculture Organization.[2009-11-15]. .
[10] Garbeva P, Van Veen J A, Van Elsas J D.2003. Predominant Bacillus spp. in agricultural soil under different management regimes detected via PCR-DGGE. Microbial Ecology, 45(3): 302-316.
[11] García C, Hernández T.1996. Influence of salinity on the biological and biochemical activity of a calciorthird soil. Plant and Soil, 178(2): 255-263.
[12] Ghollarata M, Raiesi F.2007. The adverse effects of soil salinization on the growth of Trifolium alexandrinum L. and associated microbial and biochemical properties in a soil from Iran. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 39(7): 1699-1702.
[13] Giller K E, Witter E, McGrath S P.2009. Heavy metals and soil microbes. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 41(10): 2031-2037.
[14] Guan S Y, Zhang D S, Zhang Z M.1986. Soil Enzyme and its Research Methods. Beijing: Agricultural Publishing House, 274-297. (in Chinese)
[15] Haanstra L, Doelman P, Voshaar J H O.1985. The use of sigmoidal dose response curves in soil ecotoxicological research. Plant and Soil, 84(2): 293-297.
[16] Han Q Q, Lü X P, Bai J P, et al.2014. Beneficial soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis (GB03) augments salt tolerance of white clover. Frontiers in Plant Science, 5: 525, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00525.
[17] Heuer H, Smalla K.1997. Application of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and temperature gradient gel electrophoresis (TGGE) for studying soil microbial communities. In: Van Elsas D, Wellington E M H, Trevors J T. Modern Soil Microbiology. New York: Marcel Dekker Inc., 353-373.
[18] Inubushi K, Barahona M A, Yamakawa K.1999. Effects of salts and moisture content on N2O emission and nitrogen dynamics in Yellow soil and Andosol in model experiments. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 29(4): 401-407.
[19] McCarty G W, Mookherji S, Angier J T.2007. Characterization of denitrification activity in zones of groundwater exfiltration within a riparian wetland ecosystem. Biology and Fertility of Soil, 43(6): 691-698.
[20] Mohamed D J, Martiny J B.2011. Patterns of fungal diversity and composition along a salinity gradient. The ISME Journal, 5(3): 379-388.
[21] Morrissey E M, Gillespie J L, Morina J C, et al.2014. Salinity affects microbial activity and soil organic matter content in tidal wetlands. Global Change Biology, 20(4): 1351-1362.
[22] Munns R, Tester M.2008. Mechanisms of salinity tolerance. Annual Review of Plant Biology, 59: 651-681.
[23] Porcel R, Aroca R, Ruiz-Lozano J M.2012. Salinity stress alleviation using arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 32(1): 181-200.
[24] Qadir M, Quillérou E, Nangia V, et al.2014. Economics of salt-induced land degradation and restoration. Natural Resources Forum, 38(4): 282-295.
[25] Rath K M, Rousk J.2015. Salt effects on the soil microbial decomposer community and their role in organic carbon cycling: a review. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 81: 108-123.
[26] Rath K M, Maheshwari A, Bengtson P, et al.2016. Comparative toxicities of salts on microbial processes in soil. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 82(7): 2012-2020.
[27] Rietz D N, Haynes R J.2003. Effects of irrigation-induced salinity and sodicity on soil microbial activity. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 35(6): 845-854.
[28] Saviozzi A, Cardelli R, Di Puccio R.2011. Impact of salinity on soil biological activities: a laboratory experiment. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 42(3): 358-367.
[29] Shannon C E, Weaver W.1949. The Mathematical Theory of Communication. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 623-656.
[30] Vance E D, Brookes P C, Jenkinson D S.1987. An extraction method for measuring soil microbial biomass C. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 19(6): 703-707.
[31] Wakelin S A, Colloff M J, Harvey P R, et al.2007. The effects of stubble retention and nitrogen application on soil microbial community structure and functional gene abundance under irrigated maize. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 59(3): 661-670.
[32] Wakelin S A, Chu G X, Lardner R, et al.2010. A single application of Cu to field soil has long-term effects on bacterial community structure, diversity, and soil processes. Pedobiologia, 53(2): 149-158.
[33] Wakelin S A, Anand R R, Reith F, et al.2012. Bacterial communities associated with a mineral weathering profile at a sulphidic mine tailings dump in arid Western Australia. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 79(2): 298-311.
[34] Wang J L, Huang X J, Zhong T Y, et al.2011. Review on sustainable utilization of salt-affected land. Acta Geographica Sinica, 66(5): 673-684. (in Chinese)
[35] Yan N, Marschner P.2012. Response of microbial activity and biomass to increasing salinity depends on the final salinity, not the original salinity. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 53: 50-55.
No related articles found!