Vineyard soil microbial community under conventional, sustainable and organic management practices in a Mediterranean climate

Adrian Unc, Gil Eshel, George A. Unc, Tirza Doniger, Chen Sherman, Mark Leikin, Yosef Steinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Conventional, sustainable or organic farming practices are assumed to have distinct effects on soil fertility and health. This is often supported by arguments linking management and resulting soil parameters to crop yield and produce quality. Soil microbial communities are sensitive to management practices that alter soil water fluxes and the pools and fluxes of nutrients. These effects might be accentuated in arid or semiarid agriculture. Conversion to vineyard use, under Mediterranean conditions, and the subsequent application of different management types creates the conditions for divergent soil microbial communities. An off-season survey of variably managed vineyards located in a Mediterranean climate showed that both organic and conventional vineyard management had the most distinct impact on soil abiotic parameters, and on the bacterial and fungal communities; both organic and sustainable management enhanced soil organic carbon, water holding capacity and nitrogen availability. The sustainable management led to soil microbial communities most similar to the natural conditions. Fungal diversity was better than bacterial diversity at discriminating between soils under different management types. Classes of the dominant Ascomycota phylum had best discriminating power; Mucoromycota declined significantly after conversion to vineyard use and was a key taxonomic indicator for such conversion. Regarding bacterial communities, a focus on functional categories, e.g. nitrogen-fixing taxa, may be more informative than total diversity assessments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-265
Number of pages13
JournalSoil Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© CSIRO 2021.


  • Arbuscular mycorrhizae
  • Land-use conversion
  • Mediterranean
  • Microbial diversity
  • Nitrogen-fixing bacteria
  • Organic
  • Soil fertility
  • Vineyard


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