Bacterial community composition associated with pyrogenic organic matter (biochar) varies with pyrolysis temperature and colonization environment

Zhongmin Dai, Albert Barberán, Yong Li, Philip C. Brookes, Jianming Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Microbes that colonize pyrogenic organic matter (PyOM) (also called biochar) play an important role in PyOM mineralization and crucially affect soil biogeochemical cycling, while the microbial community composition associated with PyOM particles is poorly understood. We generated two manure-based PyOMs with different characteristics (PyOM pyrolyzed at the low temperature of 300°C [i.e., PyOM300] and at the high temperature of 700°C [i.e., PyOM700]) and added them to high-carbon (4.15%) and low-C (0.37%) soil for microbial colonization. 16S rRNA gene sequencing showed that Actinobacteria, particularly Actinomycetales, was the dominant taxon in PyOM, regardless of the PyOM pyrolysis temperature and soil type. Bacterial communities associated with PyOM particles from high-C soils were similar to those in non-PyOM-amended soils. PyOM300 had higher total microbial activity and more differential bacterial communities than PyOM700. More bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs) preferentially thrived on the low-pyrolysistemperature PyOM, while some specific OTUs thrived on high-pyrolysis-temperature PyOM. In particular, Chloroflexi species tended to be more prevalent in highpyrolysis- temperature PyOM in low-C soils. In conclusion, the differences in colonized bacterial community composition between the different PyOMs were strongly influenced by the pyrolysis temperatures of PyOM, i.e., under conditions of easily mineralizable C or fused aromatic C, and by other properties, e.g., pH, surface area, and nutrient content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00085-17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Actinobacteria
  • Bacterial community composition
  • Chloroflexi
  • Easily mineralizable carbon
  • Pyrogenic organic matter
  • Pyrolysis temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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