The ISWC made progress in the effects of legumes on soil nitrogen cycling

Update time:2023-06-02
Leguminous plants are an important component of terrestrial ecosystems and significantly increase soil nitrogen (N) cycling and availability. Clarifying whether the effects of legumes on N cycling vary with contrasting ecosystem types and climatic regions is crucial for understanding and predicting ecosystem processes, but these effects are currently unknown.

Recently, researcher Xiaorong Wei, a member of Ming'an Shao academician team from the Institute of Water and Soil Conservation, and other researchers revealed the effects of legumes on soil N cycling under different ecosystem types, climatic regions and experimental management by conducting a global meta-analysis with 406 observations from 97 articles. The results showed that legumes increased the soil net N mineralization rate (Rmin) by 67%, which was greater than the recently reported increase associated with N deposition (25%). This effect was similar for tropical (53%) and temperate regions (81%) but was significantly greater in grasslands (151%) and forests (74%) than in croplands (-3%) and was greater in in situ incubation (101%) or short-term experiments (112%) than in laboratory incubation (55%) or long-term experiments (37%). Legumes significantly influenced the dependence of Rmin on N fertilization and experimental factors. The Rmin was significantly increased by N fertilization in the nonlegume soils, but not in the legume soils. Additionally, the effects of mean annual temperature, soil nutrients and experimental duration on Rmin were smaller in the legume soils than in the nonlegume soils. Collectively, those results highlighted the significant positive effects of legumes on soil N cycling, and indicated that the effects of legumes should be elucidated when addressing the response of soils to plants.

The research results are published online in Global Change Biology as “Leguminous plants significantly increase soil nitrogen cycling across global climates and ecosystem types”. The research was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Programs from Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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