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Soil microbial communities play a critical role in nutrient transformation and storage in grassland ecosystems. Quantifying the seasonal and long-term temporal extent of genetic and functional variation in soil microorganisms improve our understanding of their response to biotic and abiotic changes within and across ecosystems. Although it is well known that shifts in microbial composition and function can play an important role in ecosystem responses, few studies of land-use change effects on microorganisms incorporate repeated soil samplings.


We continued to focus on the question how abundance and function of the soil microbial community varies across landscapes, regions and land-use intensities. In this phase, we wanted to know how rapidly does soil microbial community composition and function respond to changes in land-use intensity, i.e. intensification and de-intensification.


Since the establishment of the EPs, many have undergone changes in farming practices. We expected that some sites have experienced changes in their management (intensification or de-intensification) since the last sampling dates in 2011 and 2014. Land‐use intensification drives changes in microbial communities and the soil functions they regulate, but the mechanisms underlying these changes are poorly understood as land use can affect soil communities both directly (e.g. via changes in soil fertility) and indirectly (e.g. via changes in plant inputs). We hypothesize that net changes in land-use intensity have to persist for at least several years before their effects on soil microorganisms can be tracked by soil microbiological methods.


Data were collected from 150 grassland sites spread evenly (50 each) across three regions Schwäbische Alb (South‐West), Hainich‐Dün (Central) and Schorfheide‐Chorin (North‐East). The 150 grassland sites differed greatly in management intensity across. Analyzing soil samples following the same analytical repertoire (multiple microbial functions, bacterial and fungal biomass and abiotic soil properties) at a three year time interval (2011 and 2014) gave us the opportunity to clarify the importance of the following factors: sampling time, region, land-use intensity (long-term effects), and land-use variation (short-term effects, changes within 3 years). It allowed us to examine whether soil communities and their functions respond to intensification or de-intensification of grasslands.


Changes in microbial soil properties were related to both long‐term means and short‐term changes in: abiotic soil properties, land‐use intensity, community abundance‐weighted means of plant functional traits and plant biomass properties in regression and structural equation models. Plant traits, particularly leaf phosphorus, and soil pH were the best predictors of change in soil microbial function, as well as fungal and bacterial biomass, while land‐use intensity showed weaker effects (Boeddinghaus et al. 2019). Indirect legacy effects, in which microbial change was explained by the effects of long‐term land‐use intensity on plant traits, were important, thus indicating a time lag between plant community and microbial change. Whenever the effects of short‐term changes in land‐use intensity were present, they acted directly on soil microorganisms.

Diagram shows structural model of direct and indirect effects of intensity of grassland use on soil microorganisms
Structural model on direct and indirect effects of intensity of grassland use on soil microorganisms.

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Einfluss der Landnutzungsintensität auf die mikrobielle Bio-masse von Grünlandböden
Bauer C. (2018): Einfluss der Landnutzungsintensität auf die mikrobielle Bio-masse von Grünlandböden. Bachelor thesis, University Hohenheim
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Die Landnutzungsintensität verändert die räumliche Verteilung und Funktion von Bodenmikroorganismen im Grünland
Berner D., Marhan S., Keil D., Schützenmeister A., Piepho H.-P., Poll C., Kandeler E. (2010): Land-Use Intensity Modifies Spatial Distribution and Function of Soil Microorganisms in Grasslands. Pedobiologia 54 (5-6), 341-351. doi:10.1016/j.pedobi.2011.08.001
More information:  doi.org
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Impact of soil disturbance on microorganisms in differently managed grassland soils linked to the ecosystem resilience
Binder I. (2016): Impact of soil disturbance on microorganisms in differently managed grassland soils linked to the ecosystem resilience. Master thesis, University Hohenheim
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Räumliche und zeitliche Variationen von Mikroorganismen in Grünlandböden - Einflüsse von Landnutzungsintensität, Pflanzen und Bodeneigenschaften
Boeddinghaus R. S. (2019): Spatial and temporal variations of microorganisms in grassland soils - influences of land-use intensity, plants and soil properties. Dissertation, University Hohenheim
More information:  opus.uni-hohenheim.de
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Veränderungen von funktionellen Pflanzeneigenschaften erklären parallele Veränderungen in der Struktur und Funktion mikrobieller Gemeinschaften in Grünlandböden
Boeddinghaus R. S., Marhan S., Berner D., Boch S., Fischer M., Hölzel N., Kattge J., Klaus V. H., Kleinebecker T., Oelmann Y., Prati D., Schäfer D., Schöning I., Schrumpf M., Sorkau E., Kandeler E., Manning P. (2019): Plant functional trait shifts explain concurrent changes in the structure and function of grassland soil microbial communities. Journal of Ecology 107 (5), 2197-2210. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.13182
More information:  doi.org
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Boeddinghaus R. S., Marhan S., Gebala A., Haslwimmer H., Vieira S., Sikorski J., Overmann J., Soares M., Rousk J., Rennert T., Kandeler E. (2021): The Mineralosphere – Interactive zone for microbial colonization and carbon use in grassland soils. Biology and Fertility of Soils 57, 587–601. doi: 10.1007/s00374-021-01551-7
More information:  doi.org
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Gibt es allgemeine räumliche Verteilungsmuster von mikrobieller Biomasse und Enzymaktivitäten in Grünlandböden?
Boeddinghaus R. S., Nunan N., Berner D., Marhan S., Kandeler E. (2015): Do general spatial relationships for microbial biomass and soil enzyme activities exist in temperate grassland soils? Soil Biology & Biochemistry 88, 430-440. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2015.05.026
More information:  doi.org
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Einfluss der Landnutzungsintensität auf die mikrobielle Biomasse und Enzymaktivitäten im Rhizosphärenboden verschiedener Grünlandpflanzenarten
Boob M. (2015): Einfluss der Landnutzungsintensität auf die mikrobielle Biomasse und Enzymaktivitäten im Rhizosphärenboden verschiedener Grünlandpflanzenarten. Master thesis, Universität Hohenheim
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Einfluss von Landnutzungsintensität auf Mikroorganismen in Grünlandböden der Schwäbischen Alb
Breuer B.S. (2008): Einfluss von Landnutzungsintensität auf Mikroorganismen in Grünlandböden der Schwäbischen Alb. Bachelor Thesis, University Hohenheim
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Fiore-Donno A. M., Richter-Heitmann T., Degrune F., Dumack K., Regan K. M., Mahran S., Boeddinghaus R. S., Rillig M. C., Friedrich M. W., Kandeler E., Bonkowski M. (2019): Functional Traits and Spatio-Temporal Structure of a Major Group of Soil Protists (Rhizaria: Cercozoa) in a Temperate Grassland. Frontiers in Microbiology 10:1654. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01654
More information:  doi.org
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Räumliche Heterogenität mikrobieller Enzymaktivitäten in Grünlandböden der Schwäbischen Alb
Glatzle S.(2008): Räumliche Heterogenität mikrobieller Enzymaktivitäten in Grünlandböden der Schwäbischen Alb. Bachelor thesis, University Hohenheim
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Goldmann K., Boeddinghaus R. S., Klemmer S., Regan K. M., Heintz-Buschart A., Fischer M., Prati D., Piepho H.-P., Berner D., Marhan S., Kandeler E., Buscot F., Wubet T. (2020): Unraveling spatio‐temporal variability of arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi in a temperate grassland plot. Environmental Microbiology 22 (3), 873-888. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.14653
More information:  doi.org
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Die Mineralosphäre – Sukzession und Physiologie von Bakterien und Pilzen während der Besiedlung reiner Minerale in Grünlandböden mit unterschiedlicher Landnutzungsintensität
Kandeler E., Gebala A., Boeddinghaus R. S., Müller K., Rennert T., Soares M., Rousk J., Marhan S. (2019): The mineralosphere – Succession and physiology of bacteria and fungi colonising pristine minerals in grassland soils under different land-use intensities. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 136: 107534. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2019.107534
More information:  doi.org
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Einfluss von Landnutzung auf Abundanz, Funktion und räumliche Verteilung von N-umsetzenden Mikroorganismen in Grünlandböden
Keil D. (2015): Influence of land use on abundance, function and spatial distribution of N-cycling microorganisms in grassland soils. Dissertation, University of Hohenheim
More information:  opus.uni-hohenheim.de
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Einfluss von Landnutzungsintensität auf die räumliche Verteilung Stickstoff umsetzender Mikroorganismen in Grünlandböden
Keil D., Meyer A., Berner D., Poll A., Schützenmeister A., Piepho H.-P., Vlasenko A., Philippot L., Schloter M., Kandeler E., Marhan S. (2011): Influence of land-use intensity on spatial distribution of N-cycling microorganisms in grassland soils . FEMS Microbiology Ecology 77 (1), 95-106. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2011.01091.x
More information:  doi.org
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Einfluss von Temperaturerhöhung und Dürre auf Lachgasemissionen und die Häufigkeit von denitrifizierenden Bakterien in Grünlandböden mit unterschiedlicher Landnutzungsintensität
Keil D., Niklaus P. A., von Riedmatten L. R., Boeddinghaus R. S., Dormann K. F., Scherer-Lorenzen M., Kandeler E., Marhan S. (2015): Effects of warming and drought on potential N2O emissions and denitrifying bacteria abundance in grasslands with different land use. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 91(7), pii: fiv066. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiv066
More information:  doi.org
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Long-term effects of disturbance and seed addition on soil microbial biomass in grassland with high and low land-use intensity
Langzeit Effect von Störung und Ansaat auf die mikrobielle Biomasse in Grünlandböden mit hoher und niedriger Landnutzungsintensität
Lang K. (2018): Long-term effects of disturbance and seed addition on soil microbial biomass in grassland with high and low land-use intensity. Bachelor thesis, University Hohenheim
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Eine neue Methode (midDRIFTS basierte Spektroskopie) erlaubt die schnelle und kostengünstige Vorhersage von mikrobieller Biomasse und Aktivität in Grünlandböden
Rasche F., Marhan S., Berner D., Keil D., Kandeler E., Cadisch G. (2013): midDRIFTS-based partial least square regression analysis allows predicting microbial biomass, enzyme activities and 16S rRNA gene abundance in soils of temperate grasslands. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 57, 504–512. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2012.09.030
More information:  doi.org
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Regan K. M. (2016): Linking Microbial Abundance and Function to Understand Nitrogen Cycling in Grassland Soils. Dissertation, University Hohenheim
More information:  opus.uni-hohenheim.de
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Zeigen Pflanzen oder abiotische Bodeneigenschaften saisonal bedingt mehr Einfluss auf die Verteilung von Mikroorganismen in Grünlandböden?
Regan K. M., Nunan N., Boeddinghaus R. S., Baumgarten V., Berner D., Boch S., Oelmann Y., Overmann J., Prati D., Schloter M., Schmitt B., Sorkau E., Steffens M., Kandeler E., Marhan S. (2014): Seasonal controls on grassland microbial biogeography: Are they governed by plants, abiotic properties or both? Soil Biology and Biochemistry 71, 21–30. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.12.024
More information:  doi.org
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Regan K., Stempfhuber B., Schloter M., Rasche F., Prati D., Philippot L., Boeddinghaus R. S., Kandeler E., Marhan S. (2017): Spatial and temporal dynamics of nitrogen fixing, nitrifying and denitrifying microbes in an unfertilized grassland soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 109, 214–226. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2016.11.011
More information:  doi.org
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Richter-Heitmann T., Hofner B., Krah F.-S., Sikorski J., Wüst P. K., Bunk B., Huang S., Regan K., Berner D., Boeddinghaus R. S., Marhan S., Prati D., Kandeler E., Overmann J., Friedrich M. W. (2020): Stochastic dispersal rather than deterministic selection explains the spatio-temporal distribution of soil bacteria in a temperate grassland. Frontiers in Microbiology 11: 1391. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.01391
More information:  doi.org
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Die potentielle Methan-Oxidation des Bodens in Abhängigkeit von der Landnutzungsintensität am Beispiel von Grünland und Wald
Rohrbach K. (2017): Die potentielle Methan-Oxidation des Bodens in Abhängigkeit von der Landnutzungsintensität am Beispiel von Grünland und Wald. Bachelor thesis, University Hohenheim
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Erholung von Ökosystemfunktionen nach experimenteller Störung in 73 Grünlandflächen mit unterschiedlicher Landnutzungsintensität, Artenvielfalt und Zusammensetzung der Pflanzengesellschaft
Schäfer D., Klaus V. H., Kleinebecker T., Boeddinghaus R. S., Hinderling J., Kandeler E., Marhan S., Nowak S., Sonnemann I., Wurst S., Fischer M., Hölzel N., Hamer U., Prati D. (2019): Recovery of ecosystem functions after experimental disturbance in 73 grasslands differing in land‐use intensity, plant species richness and community composition. Journal of Ecology 107 (6), 2635-2649. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.13211
More information:  doi.org
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Lineare gemischte Modelle und Geostatistik für geplante Experimente in den Bodenwissenschaften – zwei unversöhnliche Methoden oder zwei Seiten derselben Medaille
Slaets J., Boeddinghaus R. S., Piepho H.-P. (2021): Linear mixed models and geostatistics for designed experiments in soil science ‐ two entirely different methods or two sides of the same coin? European Journal of Soil Science 72 (1), 47-68. doi: 10.1111/ejss.12976
More information:  doi.org
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Nach welchen Regeln besiedeln Bakterien den Boden?
Vieira S., Sikorski J., Gebala A., Boeddinghaus R. S., Marhan S., Rennert T., Kandeler E., Overmann J. (2020): Bacterial colonization of minerals in grassland soils is selective and highly dynamic. Environmental Microbiology 22 (3), 917-933. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.14751
More information:  doi.org

Scientific assistants

Prof. Dr. Ellen Kandeler
Project manager
Prof. Dr. Ellen Kandeler
Universität Hohenheim
Dr. Sven Marhan
Project manager
Dr. Sven Marhan
Universität Hohenheim
Dr. Runa Boeddinghaus
Employee
Dr. Runa Boeddinghaus
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