Soil microbial biomass and composition from urban landscapes in a semiarid climate

Manish Sapkota, Joseph Young, Lindsey Slaughter, Veronica Acosta-Martínez, Cade Coldren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Soil microbial communities have been used as indicators of changes in soil health agroecosystems. However, few studies have evaluated soil health under turfgrass systems especially in semiarid climates. Our study determined whether microbial biomass and composition in residential soils were controlled by home age along a turfgrass chronosequence and evaluated effects of turfgrass management in structuring soil microbial communities. Soil samples were obtained from nine locations within each home age category: oldest (1950–1970), middle (1971–1990), newer (1991–2010), and newest (2011–present) in summer 2018 and 2019. Soil microbial biomass and composition were assessed using chloroform fumigation extraction method (CFEM) and ester-linked fatty acid methyl ester (EL-FAME) analysis. Soil microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and nitrogen (MBN) were 46–52% and 65–75% higher in oldest homes when compared to newest homes, respectively. Neither total FAMEs nor fungal FAME abundance differed for home age categories, but bacterial FAME abundance increased with home age. Non-parametric analysis determined no microbial abundance differences with management practices or turfgrass species. Pearson correlations indicated soil organic matter and silt content most consistently altered the microbial community. Soil microbial communities within semiarid, urban environments shifted from high fungal to bacterial dominated as landscapes matured, potentially due to long-term effects of irrigation, fertilization, and pesticide use. Our results indicate time after establishment was more important to development of soil microbial communities in semiarid, perennial turfgrass systems than subtle differences in management, suggesting soil health and resource conservation goals in this setting may be achievable with relatively low levels of management over time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103810
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Fatty acid profiles
  • Home lawns
  • Soil health
  • Turfgrass
  • Urban soil


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