Soil microbial communities are integrally involved in biogeochemical cycles and their activities are crucial to the productivity of terrestrial ecosystems. Despite the importance of soil microorganisms, little is known about the distribution of microorganisms in the soil or the manner in which microbial community structure responds to changes in land management. We investigated the structure of microbial communities in the soil over two years in a series of replicated plots, that included, cultivated fields, fields abandoned from cultivation and fields with no history of cultivation. Microbial community structure was examined by monitoring the relative abundance of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) from seven of the most common bacterial groups in soil (the Alpha and Beta Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Cytophagales, Planctomycetes, Verrucomicrobia and the Acidobacteria) and the Eukarya. These data reveal that soil microbial communities are dynamic, capable of significant change at temporal scales relative to seasonal events. However, despite temporal change in microbial community structure, the rRNA relative abundance of particular microbial groups is affected by the local environment such that recognizable patterns of community structure exist in relation to field management.
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