Tea and Oyster Mushroom Farming Changes Soil and Root Microbial Communities

Greg Howard
18th May, 2024

Tea and Oyster Mushroom Farming Changes Soil and Root Microbial Communities

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Intercropping tea plants with Pleurotus ostreatus mushrooms improves soil health and tea yield
  • Soil microbial diversity increased by September, enhancing nutrient cycling and soil fertility
  • The presence of beneficial fungi and increased soil nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus support better tea plant growth and quality
Tea cultivation faces several challenges, including soil acidification and nutrient depletion, which can significantly affect tea yield and quality. A recent study by Guizhou University has explored an innovative solution: intercropping tea plants with Pleurotus ostreatus, a type of mushroom, to enhance tea yield and improve soil conditions[1]. The study utilized high-throughput sequencing and Biolog Eco analysis to investigate changes in soil microbial communities in tea gardens intercropped with P. ostreatus during different seasons (April and September). The results indicated that intercropping with P. ostreatus led to significant improvements in both soil health and tea plant productivity. Soil microbial diversity is crucial for nutrient cycling and overall soil health. The study found that while microbial diversity in the rhizosphere (the soil region near plant roots) decreased in April, it increased in both the rhizosphere and non-rhizosphere soils by September. Additionally, the diversity of microorganisms associated with tea tree roots increased in both periods. This increase in microbial diversity is vital as it boosts the soil's ability to support plant growth. Particularly noteworthy was the rise in the number of fungi known for their roles in organic matter decomposition and nutrient cycling, such as Penicillium, Trichoderma, and Trechispora. These fungi help break down organic matter, releasing essential nutrients back into the soil, thereby enhancing soil fertility. Intercropping with P. ostreatus also led to increased levels of total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), and available phosphorus (AP) in the soil. These nutrients are critical for plant growth and development. Moreover, the study observed an improvement in the content of secondary metabolites like tea catechins and polysaccharides in tea buds. These compounds are important for the flavor and health benefits of tea. Microbial network analysis revealed interesting correlations between specific microorganisms and soil properties. For instance, Unclassified_o__Helotiales and Devosia were positively correlated with soil TN and pH, while Lactobacillus, Acidothermus, and Monascus were positively correlated with flavone, AE, and catechins in tea trees. These findings suggest that intercropping with P. ostreatus not only enhances soil nutrient levels but also positively influences the microbial community structure, which in turn benefits tea plant health and yield. This study builds on previous research that has highlighted the importance of maintaining soil health for sustainable tea cultivation. For example, earlier studies have shown that different tea plant varieties can influence soil nutrient profiles and help mitigate soil acidification[2]. The current study's findings align with these earlier observations, demonstrating that intercropping with P. ostreatus can further enhance soil health and tea yield by improving microbial diversity and nutrient cycling. Additionally, the study's results are consistent with findings from research on the antidepressant effects of tea consumption, which have linked the presence of compounds like catechins and polyphenols to various health benefits[3]. By increasing the content of these beneficial compounds in tea buds, intercropping with P. ostreatus could potentially enhance the health benefits of tea. The historical context of tea cultivation in regions like Guizhou Province, where companion planting has been practiced for centuries, also supports the study's approach[4]. The integration of traditional practices with modern scientific techniques, such as intercropping with beneficial fungi, offers a promising path for sustainable tea cultivation. In conclusion, the study by Guizhou University demonstrates that intercropping tea plants with Pleurotus ostreatus can significantly improve soil health and tea yield. By enhancing microbial diversity and nutrient cycling, this method offers a sustainable solution to the challenges of soil acidification and nutrient depletion in tea gardens. These findings have important implications for the future of tea cultivation, particularly in regions with acidic soils.

EnvironmentPlant ScienceMycology


Main Study

1) Tea and Pleurotus ostreatus intercropping modulates structure of soil and root microbial communities.

Published 17th May, 2024


Related Studies

2) Effects of Tea Plant Varieties with High- and Low-Nutrient Efficiency on Nutrients in Degraded Soil.


3) Mechanisms Underlying the Anti-Depressive Effects of Regular Tea Consumption.


4) Companion Plants of Tea: From Ancient to Terrace to Forest.


Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙