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Short-term carbon input increases microbial nitrogen demand, but not microbial nitrogen mining, in a set of boreal forest soils
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry. University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
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Number of Authors: 82017 (English)In: Biogeochemistry, ISSN 0168-2563, E-ISSN 1573-515X, Vol. 136, no 3, p. 261-278Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Rising carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and temperatures are expected to stimulate plant productivity and ecosystem C sequestration, but these effects require a concurrent increase in N availability for plants. Plants might indirectly promote N availability as they release organic C into the soil (e.g., by root exudation) that can increase microbial soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition (priming effect), and possibly the enzymatic breakdown of N-rich polymers, such as proteins, into bio-available units (N mining). We tested the adjustment of protein depolymerization to changing soil C and N availability in a laboratory experiment. We added easily available C or N sources to six boreal forest soils, and determined soil organic C mineralization, gross protein depolymerization and gross ammonification rates (using N-15 pool dilution assays), and potential extracellular enzyme activities after 1 week of incubation. Added C sources were C-13-labelled to distinguish substrate from soil derived C mineralization. Observed effects reflect short-term adaptations of non-symbiotic soil microorganisms to increased C or N availability. Although C input promoted microbial growth and N demand, we did not find indicators of increased N mobilization from SOM polymers, given that none of the soils showed a significant increase in protein depolymerization, and only one soil showed a significant increase in N-targeting enzymes. Instead, our findings suggest that microorganisms immobilized the already available N more efficiently, as indicated by decreased ammonification and inorganic N concentrations. Likewise, although N input stimulated ammonification, we found no significant effect on protein depolymerization. Although our findings do not rule out in general that higher plant-soil C allocation can promote microbial N mining, they suggest that such an effect can be counteracted, at least in the short term, by increased microbial N immobilization, further aggravating plant N limitation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 136, no 3, p. 261-278
Keywords [en]
Boreal forest, Priming, Microbial N mining, Organic N, Protein depolymerization, N mineralization, Ammonification
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-150048DOI: 10.1007/s10533-017-0391-0ISI: 000416325100003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-150048DiVA, id: diva2:1166515
Available from: 2017-12-15 Created: 2017-12-15 Last updated: 2017-12-15Bibliographically approved

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