Marine studies have shown that the carbon:nitrogen:phosphorus (C:N:P) atomic ratio in planktonic organisms is generally 106:16:1, which is known as the “Redfield ratio”. This raises the question of whether there are similar patterns in terrestrial organisms, particularly in soil. In this study, we extracted 404 datasets from the literature to analyze the ecological stoichiometry of C, N and P, both in the soil and in the soil microbial biomass in China; additionally, we assessed their relationships with environmental factors, and calculated the homeostasis coefficient (H
) of soil microbial biomass. First, although the concentrations of C, N and P in soil and soil microbial biomass showed high spatial heterogeneity, the atomic C:N:P ratios in the soil and soil microbial biomass were relatively consistent at the national scale. Second, the influences of temperature and precipitation on stoichiometric relationships among C, N and P in the soil and soil microbial biomass were limited in China; however, they decreased with the increase in soil pH. Third, the degree of stoichiometric homeostasis for soil microbes spanned a wide range, from non-homeostasis to strict homeostasis. For single elements, most of the soil microbes’ H
ranged from 1.01 to 5.00; for elemental ratios, most of the soil microbes’ H
displayed strict homeostasis. This study indicates that the “Redfield-like” ratio exists in the soil microbial biomass in the 0–20 cm soil layer in China, with an atomic C:N:P ratio of 66:8:1 and it is close to the atomic C:N:P ratio in the soil (66:5:1) of terrestrial ecosystems. In addition to the N:P ratio in plants, the soil microbial biomass N:P ratio may also be used to judge the nutrient limitations because of its high stability.
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