Biosolids and Tillage Practices Influence Soil Bacterial Communities in Dryland Wheat. Academic Article uri icon


  • Class B biosolids are used in dryland wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) production in eastern Washington as a source of nutrients and to increase soil organic matter, but little is known about their effects on bacterial communities and potential for harboring human pathogens. Moreover, conservation tillage is promoted to reduce erosion and soil degradation. We explored the impacts of biosolids or synthetic fertilizer in combination with traditional (conventional) or conservation tillage on soil bacterial communities. Bacterial communities were characterized from fresh biosolids, biosolid aggregates embedded in soil, and soil after a second application of biosolids using high-throughput amplicon sequencing. Biosolid application significantly affected bacterial communities, even 4 years after their application. Bacteria in the families Clostridiaceae, Norcardiaceae, Anaerolinaceae, Dietziaceae, and Planococcaceae were more abundant in fresh biosolids, biosolid aggregates, and soils treated with biosolids than in synthetically fertilized soils. Taxa identified as Turcibacter, Dietzia, Clostridiaceae, and Anaerolineaceae were highly abundant in biosolid aggregates in the soil and likely originated from the biosolids. In contrast, Oxalobacteriaceae, Streptomyceteaceae, Janthinobacterium, Pseudomonas, Kribbella, and Bacillus were rare in the fresh biosolids, but relatively abundant in biosolid aggregates in the soil, and probably originated from the soil to colonize the substrate. However, tillage had relatively minor effects on bacterial communities, with only a small number of taxa differing in relative abundance between traditional and conventional tillage. Although biosolid-associated bacteria persisted in soil, potentially pathogenic taxa were extremely rare and no toxin genes for key groups (Salmonella, Clostridium) were detectable, suggesting that although fecal contamination was apparent via indicator taxa, pathogen populations had declined to low levels. Thus, biosolid amendments had profound effects on soil bacterial communities both by introducing gut- or digester-derived bacteria and by enriching potentially beneficial indigenous soil populations.

published proceedings

  • Microb Ecol

altmetric score

  • 9.83

author list (cited authors)

  • Schlatter, D. C., Paul, N. C., Shah, D. H., Schillinger, W. F., Bary, A. I., Sharratt, B., & Paulitz, T. C.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Schlatter, Daniel C||Paul, Narayan C||Shah, Devendra H||Schillinger, William F||Bary, Andy I||Sharratt, Brenton||Paulitz, Timothy C

publication date

  • January 2019