ThingLink Soil Microbiology Non-Technical Summary


Research has shown that the diversity of life has diminished with increased urbanization, but the focus has mainly been on plants and animals. This study focuses on the changes to soil microbial diversity in city or human-altered environments, because human alteration of the environment (pollution, construction, landscaping, etc)can drastically influence living conditions of local microorganisms. Focusing on Beijing, a city that rapidly urbanized from 1970 onwards, the study examined soils relating to how long ago the part of the city was build. Centered on the Forbidden City as the oldest point, moving outwards are ring roads that were added at different times outward with a total number of 5 roads. These researchers took samples from the different road levels to compare how microbial samples differ across different levels of urbanization. Overall, the main bacterial groups stayed the same across all samples, but microbial diversity differed. Analyses showed that differences in microbial communities could be explained by changes in soil acidity and these differences were not related to the age of the city area. The conclusion was that urbanization in Beijing has complex effects on the microbial diversity and these effects varied based on the layout of specific locations.

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