Influence of land use on the microbiological properties of urban soils

M. Gómez-Brandón, C. Herbón, M. Probst, F. Fornasier, M. T. Barral, R. Paradelo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Advancing towards sustainable cities needs a better understanding of all components of urban ecosystems, including soils, but the biological component of urban soils remains poorly studied compared to natural and agricultural soils. With the objective of advancing knowledge in this aspect, we studied the microbiological properties in 61 soils of the city of Santiago de Compostela (NW Spain), under several land uses (urban grassland, urban forest, urban garden, and periurban arable land). We determined thirteen extracellular enzymatic activities as a proxy of microbial community functioning, along with measures of microbial activity (basal respiration), microbial abundance (DNA extraction and real-time PCR), and the composition of microbial communities (Illumina MiSeq sequencing on 16S rRNA and ITS marker regions). Results showed a high variability in all of the microbiological variables among soils, reflecting the typical spatial heterogeneity of urban soils. Respiration and enzymatic activities were highly correlated to soil organic matter contents but not affected by land use within the city, with the exception of alkaline phosphomonoesterase activity, which was higher in urban garden soils and correlated positively to pH and availability of phosphorus and nitrogen. Unlike fungal abundance, we recorded a higher bacterial abundance in the urban grasslands than in the other land uses. While the composition of bacterial communities was structured in a more homogeneous, land use-dependent manner (33% variance, pAdonis = 0.001), the respective fungal communities were more heterogeneous and less influenced by group-dependent characteristics (18%, pAdonis = 0.001). Soil pH had a larger influence on the bacterial community composition (28% variance) compared to the fungal composition (8.5% variance). Overall, these findings provide evidence that the typically high soil heterogeneity of urban ecosystems is the main driving force for the urban soil microbiome, with soil organic matter determining largely microbial activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104452
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Enzymatic activities
  • Microbial activity
  • Microbial communities
  • Soil health
  • Urban ecosystems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Soil Science


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