Biodiv Sci ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (10): 1103-1115.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2018159

Special Issue: 土壤生物与土壤健康

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Mechanisms of earthworms to alleviate continuous cropping obstacles through regulating soil microecology

Yanmeng Bi1,2, Zhenjun Sun1,*()   

  1. 1 College of Resources and Environmental Science, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193
    2 Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Beijing Union Medical College, Beijing 100193
  • Received:2018-06-01 Accepted:2018-08-03 Online:2018-10-20 Published:2019-01-06
  • Contact: Sun Zhenjun
  • About author:# Co-first authors


Obstacles to continuous cropping seriously affect crop yield and also lead to a series of microecological imbalance problems, such as the decline of soil biodiversity, the decrease of beneficial microbes, and the increase of pathogens. The imbalanced soil microecology affects plants and can lead to more serious disease and even greater reduction of crop yield. As soil ecosystem engineers, earthworms have important regulating effects on soil microecology. Earthworms can improve the soil environment and strengthen the function of soil biological communities through their activities (e.g. feeding, burrowing and creeping), thus providing a potential way to alleviate microecological obstacles to continuous cropping. This paper reviews the progress made in research on soil microecology, soil function maintenance, and earthworm regulation of soil biological function. Three mechanisms that earthworms employ to alleviate obstacles to continuous cropping through soil microecology regulation were identified: direct regulation of soil microbial communities, regulation of microbial colonies by changing allelochemical composition, and regulation of soil fauna communities. Through earthworm regulation of microbial communities, an imbalanced soil microenvironment in the rhizosphere is corrected, thereby alleviating obstacles to continuous cropping.

Key words: earthworms, obstacles to continuous cropping, soil animal, allelochemicals, soil microbes