Table of Contents
ISRN Ecology
Volume 2012, Article ID 487370, 11 pages
Research Article

Impacts of Cropping Systems and Long-Term Tillage on Soil Microbial Population Levels and Community Composition in Dryland Agricultural Setting

1Soil and Crop Sciences Department, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2474, USA
2Programa de Edafología, Colegio de Postgraduados en Ciencias Agrícolas, Campus Montecillo, Carr. México-Texcoco, 56230 Montecillo, MEX, Mexico

Received 28 September 2011; Accepted 18 October 2011

Academic Editor: R. Abed

Copyright © 2012 Justin P. Ng et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Few studies have used molecular methods to correlate the abundance of specific microbial taxonomic groups with changes in soil properties impacted by long-term agriculture. Community qPCR with 16S rRNA gene sequencing to examine the effects of long-term crop-management practices (no-till vs. conventional tillage, and continuous wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) vs. sorghum-wheat-soybean rotation (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench-Triticum aestivum L.-Glycine max L. Merr) on bacterial and fungal relative abundances and identify the dominant members of the soil microbial community. The qPCR assays revealed that crop rotation decreased bacterial copy numbers, but no-till practices did not significantly alter bacteria or fungi relative to conventional tillage. Cyanobacteria were more abundant while Actinobacteria were less numerous under continuous wheat. Acidobacteria and Planctomycetes were positively correlated with soil microbial biomass C and N. This study highlights ways cropping systems affect microbial communities and aids the development of sustainable agriculture.