Soil microbes are of great significance to driving the biogeochemical cycles and are affected by multiple factors, including urbanization. However, the response of soil microbes to urbanization remains unclear. Therefore, we designed an urban-to-rural gradient experiment to investigate the response of soil microbial composition and diversity to urbanization. Here, we used a high-throughput sequencing method to analyze the biotic and abiotic effects on soil microbial composition and diversity along the urban-to-rural gradient. Our results showed that soil bacterial diversity was the highest in urban areas, followed by suburban areas, and was the lowest in exurbs; however, fungal diversity did not vary significantly among the three areas. Plant traits, i.e., tree richness, shrub richness, the number of tree stems, diameter at breast height of trees, and soil properties, i.e., pH, soil organic carbon, soil exchangeable calcium and magnesium, and soil water content, were only significantly influenced bacterial diversity, but not fungal diversity. The effect of trees and shrubs was higher than that of herbs on microbial composition. Soil organic carbon, pH, soil available nitrogen, soil exchangeable calcium, and magnesium were the major soil factors influencing the soil bacterial and fungal composition. Soil properties had a greater influence on bacterial than on fungal composition at genus level, while plant traits contributed more to fungal than to bacterial composition at genus level. Our study suggests that the urban-to-rural gradient affect the composition and diversity of bacterial community as well as the fungal composition, but not the fungal diversity.
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