Research Highlights: Soil enzymes have a significant impact on the production of glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP), directly and indirectly affecting the nutrient metabolism balance, but there is little available information on ecological stoichiometry in soil aggregates. Background and Objectives: Vegetation restoration changes community structure and species composition in ecosystems, thus changing the physicochemical properties of soil. Soil aggregate is the most basic physical structure of the soil. Therefore, in order to understand dynamic changes in soil aggregate nutrients as vegetation restoration progresses, we set out to investigate the nutrient distribution and utilization in aggregates, and how enzymes respond to the nutrient changes in achieving a nutritional balance along successive stages of vegetation restoration. Materials and Methods: We collected and analyzed soil from plots representing six different stages of a vegetation restoration chronosequence (0, 30, 60, 100, 130, and 160 years) after farmland abandonment on the Loess Plateau, China. We investigated soil nutrient stoichiometry, GRSP, and enzyme stoichiometry in the different successional stages. Results: The results revealed that soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, enzyme activity, and GRSP increased with vegetation recovery age, but not total phosphorus, and not all enzymes reached their maximum in the climax forest community. The easily extractable GRSP/total GRSP ratio was the largest at the shrub community stage, indicating that glomalin degradation was the lowest at this stage. Ecological stoichiometry revealed N-limitation decreased and P-limitation increased with increasing vegetation restoration age. Soil enzymes had a significant impact on the GRSP production, directly and indirectly affecting nutrient metabolism balance. Conclusions: Further study of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to identify changes in their category and composition is needed for a better understanding of how soil enzymes affect their release of GRSP, in order to maintain a nutrient balance along successive stages of vegetation restoration.
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