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Simulated rhizosphere deposits induce microbial N-mining that may accelerate shrubification in the subarctic

Hicks, Lettice C. LU ; Leizeaga, Ainara LU ; Rousk, Kathrin LU ; Michelsen, Anders and Rousk, Johannes LU (2020) In Ecology
Abstract

Climate change is exposing high-latitude systems to warming and a shift towards more shrub-dominated plant communities, resulting in increased leaf-litter inputs at the soil surface, and more labile root-derived organic matter (OM) input in the soil profile. Labile OM can stimulate the mineralization of soil organic matter (SOM); a phenomenon termed “priming.” In N-poor subarctic soils, it is hypothesized that microorganisms may “prime” SOM in order to acquire N (microbial N-mining). Increased leaf-litter inputs with a high C/N ratio might further exacerbate microbial N demand, and increase the susceptibility of N-poor soils to N-mining. We investigated the N-control of SOM mineralization by amending soils from climate change–simulation... (More)

Climate change is exposing high-latitude systems to warming and a shift towards more shrub-dominated plant communities, resulting in increased leaf-litter inputs at the soil surface, and more labile root-derived organic matter (OM) input in the soil profile. Labile OM can stimulate the mineralization of soil organic matter (SOM); a phenomenon termed “priming.” In N-poor subarctic soils, it is hypothesized that microorganisms may “prime” SOM in order to acquire N (microbial N-mining). Increased leaf-litter inputs with a high C/N ratio might further exacerbate microbial N demand, and increase the susceptibility of N-poor soils to N-mining. We investigated the N-control of SOM mineralization by amending soils from climate change–simulation treatments in the subarctic (+1.1°C warming, birch litter addition, willow litter addition, and fungal sporocarp addition) with labile OM either in the form of glucose (labile C; equivalent to 400 µg C/g fresh [fwt] soil) or alanine (labile C + N; equivalent to 400 µg C and 157 µg N/g fwt soil), to simulate rhizosphere inputs. Surprisingly, we found that despite 5 yr of simulated climate change treatments, there were no significant effects of the field-treatments on microbial process rates, community structure or responses to labile OM. Glucose primed the mineralization of both C and N from SOM, but gross mineralization of N was stimulated more than that of C, suggesting that microbial SOM use increased in magnitude and shifted to components richer in N (i.e., selective microbial N-mining). The addition of alanine also resulted in priming of both C and N mineralization, but the N mineralization stimulated by alanine was greater than that stimulated by glucose, indicating strong N-mining even when a source of labile OM including N was supplied. Microbial carbon use efficiency was reduced in response to both labile OM inputs. Overall, these findings suggest that shrub expansion could fundamentally alter biogeochemical cycling in the subarctic, yielding more N available for plant uptake in these N-limited soils, thus driving positive plant–soil feedbacks.

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author
; ; ; and
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
carbon and nitrogen mineralization, climate change, microbial carbon use efficiency, nitrogen limitation, nitrogen-mining, rhizosphere biogeochemistry, soil priming effect, subarctic tundra
in
Ecology
publisher
Ecological Society of America
external identifiers
  • pmid:32379897
  • scopus:85086109570
ISSN
0012-9658
DOI
10.1002/ecy.3094
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
42908c64-1464-4115-b36e-b72764e92376
date added to LUP
2020-07-03 11:55:25
date last changed
2020-07-04 03:00:04
@article{42908c64-1464-4115-b36e-b72764e92376,
  abstract     = {<p>Climate change is exposing high-latitude systems to warming and a shift towards more shrub-dominated plant communities, resulting in increased leaf-litter inputs at the soil surface, and more labile root-derived organic matter (OM) input in the soil profile. Labile OM can stimulate the mineralization of soil organic matter (SOM); a phenomenon termed “priming.” In N-poor subarctic soils, it is hypothesized that microorganisms may “prime” SOM in order to acquire N (microbial N-mining). Increased leaf-litter inputs with a high C/N ratio might further exacerbate microbial N demand, and increase the susceptibility of N-poor soils to N-mining. We investigated the N-control of SOM mineralization by amending soils from climate change–simulation treatments in the subarctic (+1.1°C warming, birch litter addition, willow litter addition, and fungal sporocarp addition) with labile OM either in the form of glucose (labile C; equivalent to 400 µg C/g fresh [fwt] soil) or alanine (labile C + N; equivalent to 400 µg C and 157 µg N/g fwt soil), to simulate rhizosphere inputs. Surprisingly, we found that despite 5 yr of simulated climate change treatments, there were no significant effects of the field-treatments on microbial process rates, community structure or responses to labile OM. Glucose primed the mineralization of both C and N from SOM, but gross mineralization of N was stimulated more than that of C, suggesting that microbial SOM use increased in magnitude and shifted to components richer in N (i.e., selective microbial N-mining). The addition of alanine also resulted in priming of both C and N mineralization, but the N mineralization stimulated by alanine was greater than that stimulated by glucose, indicating strong N-mining even when a source of labile OM including N was supplied. Microbial carbon use efficiency was reduced in response to both labile OM inputs. Overall, these findings suggest that shrub expansion could fundamentally alter biogeochemical cycling in the subarctic, yielding more N available for plant uptake in these N-limited soils, thus driving positive plant–soil feedbacks.</p>},
  author       = {Hicks, Lettice C. and Leizeaga, Ainara and Rousk, Kathrin and Michelsen, Anders and Rousk, Johannes},
  issn         = {0012-9658},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {Ecological Society of America},
  series       = {Ecology},
  title        = {Simulated rhizosphere deposits induce microbial N-mining that may accelerate shrubification in the subarctic},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecy.3094},
  doi          = {10.1002/ecy.3094},
  year         = {2020},
}