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PeerJ. 2017 Sep 7;5:e3777. doi: 10.7717/peerj.3777. eCollection 2017.

Impact of litter quantity on the soil bacteria community during the decomposition of Quercus wutaishanica litter.

Zeng Q#1,2, Liu Y#1, An S1,2.

Author information

College of Natural Resources and Environment, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China.
State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China.
Contributed equally


The forest ecosystem is the main component of terrestrial ecosystems. The global climate and the functions and processes of soil microbes in the ecosystem are all influenced by litter decomposition. The effects of litter decomposition on the abundance of soil microorganisms remain unknown. Here, we analyzed soil bacterial communities during the litter decomposition process in an incubation experiment under treatment with different litter quantities based on annual litterfall data (normal quantity, 200 g/(m2/yr); double quantity, 400 g/(m2/yr) and control, no litter). The results showed that litter quantity had significant effects on soil carbon fractions, nitrogen fractions, and bacterial community compositions, but significant differences were not found in the soil bacterial diversity. The normal litter quantity enhanced the relative abundance of Actinobacteria and Firmicutes and reduced the relative abundance of Bacteroidetes, Plantctomycets and Nitrospiare. The Beta-, Gamma-, and Deltaproteobacteria were significantly less abundant in the normal quantity litter addition treatment, and were subsequently more abundant in the double quantity litter addition treatment. The bacterial communities transitioned from Proteobacteria-dominant (Beta-, Gamma-, and Delta) to Actinobacteria-dominant during the decomposition of the normal quantity of litter. A cluster analysis showed that the double litter treatment and the control had similar bacterial community compositions. These results suggested that the double quantity litter limited the shift of the soil bacterial community. Our results indicate that litter decomposition alters bacterial dynamics under the accumulation of litter during the vegetation restoration process, which provides important significant guidelines for the management of forest ecosystems.


Carbon fractions; Litter decomposition; Nitrogen fractions; Soil bacteria

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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