Evaluating the lingering effect of livestock grazing on functional potentials of microbial communities in Tibetan grassland soils

Mengmeng Wang, Shiping Wang, Linwei Wu, Depeng Xu, Qiaoyan Lin, Yigang Hu, Xiangzhen Li, Jizhong Zhou, Yunfeng Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Background and aims: Livestock grazing is a widely practiced land-use regime that can impose lingering effects on global biogeochemical cycles. However, elucidating the mechanisms of related eco-processes, which are largely mediated by the microbial community, remains challenging. Methods: Here, we collected soil samples from two Tibetan grassland sites subjected to grazing in winter followed by a 3-month recovery. We then evaluated functional potentials of microbial communities via a metagenomic tool known as GeoChip 4.0. Results: Significant alterations were detected in post-grazing grassland soils, and further analysis showed that plant diversity was the best indicator of alterations in functional potentials. Relative abundances of labile C degradation genes decreased at the 3400-m site, but those of recalcitrant C degradation genes increased, which could be explained by the higher soil recalcitrant C input owing to their being substantially more forbs species at this site. Nitrification genes decreased at both sites, probably owing to increased soil moisture conducive to oxygen-limiting conditions. Relative abundance of denitrification genes increased at the 3200-m site, concomitant with increased N2O emissions. Conclusions: These results demonstrated that functional gene compositions of the microbial community were altered in post-grazing grassland soils, and linked to soil biogeochemical processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-399
Number of pages15
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • GeoChip
  • Microbial functional potential
  • Post-winter grazing
  • Tibetan grassland

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