Biochar Enhances Soil Resource Availability and Suppresses Microbial Metabolism Genes in the Rhizosphere of Wheat

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Despite the well-documented role of biochar in promoting soil quality and crop productivity, the underlying biological mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here, we explored the effects of straw biochar on soil microbiome in the rhizosphere from wheat using metagenomic sequencing. Our results showed that straw return decreased the yields of wheat, while the straw biochar return increased the wheat yields. Further, both the richness and community composition confirmed different effects of the straw return and straw biochar return. The straw biochar return also resulted in greater rhizosphere effects from wheat, represented by resource availability, including soil organic carbon, soil total nitrogen, available phosphorus, and available potassium. The rhizosphere effects from wheat, represented by microbial metabolism genes involved in carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium cycling, however, were decreased by straw biochar returning. In addition, the rhizosphere effects from nitrogen content and the nitrogen cycling genes showed negative relationships with wheat yields. Together, these results revealed that straw biochar enhanced soil resource availability but suppressed microbial metabolism genes in the rhizosphere from wheat, supporting the idea that straw biochar serves as a nutrient pool for crops.

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