Front Plant Sci. 2023 Aug 25;14:1221288. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2023.1221288. eCollection 2023.
INTRODUCTION: With the continuous changes in climate patterns due to global warming, drought has become an important limiting factor in the development of terrestrial ecosystems. However, a comprehensive understanding of the impact of drought on soil microbial activity at a global scale is lacking.
METHODS: In this study, we aimed to examine the effects of drought on soil microbial biomass (carbon [MBC], nitrogen [MBN], and phosphorus [MBP]) and enzyme activity (β-1, 4-glucosidase [BG]; β-D-cellobiosidase [CBH]; β-1, 4-N-acetylglucosaminidase [NAG]; L-leucine aminopeptidase [LAP]; and acid phosphatase [AP]). Additionally, we conducted a meta-analysis to determine the degree to which these effects are regulated by vegetation type, drought intensity, drought duration, and mean annual temperature (MAT).
RESULT AND DISCUSSION: Our results showed that drought significantly decreased the MBC, MBN, and MBP and the activity levels of BG and AP by 22.7%, 21.2%, 21.6%, 26.8%, and 16.1%, respectively. In terms of vegetation type, drought mainly affected the MBC and MBN in croplands and grasslands. Furthermore, the response ratio of BG, CBH, NAG, and LAP were negatively correlated with drought intensity, whereas MBN and MBP and the activity levels of BG and CBH were negatively correlated with drought duration. Additionally, the response ratio of BG and NAG were negatively correlated with MAT. In conclusion, drought significantly reduced soil microbial biomass and enzyme activity on a global scale. Our results highlight the strong impact of drought on soil microbial biomass and carbon- and phosphorus-acquiring enzyme activity.