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Hemiparasitic litter additions alter gross nitrogen turnover in temperate semi-natural grassland soils

Demey, A.; Rütting, Tobias; Huygens, D.; Staelens, J.; Hermy, M.; Verheyen, K. and Boeckx, P. (2014) In Soil Biology & Biochemistry 68. p.419-428
Abstract
Hemiparasitic plants accumulate nutrients in their leaves and therefore produce high-quality litter with faster decomposition and nutrient release rates compared to non-parasitic litter. Higher levels of plant-available nitrogen (N) in the presence of hemiparasitic plants have been attributed to this 'litter effect', but effects on N dynamics in the soil remain unstudied. We tested the hypothesis that litter of Rhinanthus angustifolius and Pedicularis sylvatica increases N transformation rates in the soil more than non-parasitic litter of a species mix from the same communities. We expected the litter effect to be higher in the oligotrophic Pedicularis soil compared to the mesotrophic Rhinanthus soil. Gross N transformation rates were... (More)
Hemiparasitic plants accumulate nutrients in their leaves and therefore produce high-quality litter with faster decomposition and nutrient release rates compared to non-parasitic litter. Higher levels of plant-available nitrogen (N) in the presence of hemiparasitic plants have been attributed to this 'litter effect', but effects on N dynamics in the soil remain unstudied. We tested the hypothesis that litter of Rhinanthus angustifolius and Pedicularis sylvatica increases N transformation rates in the soil more than non-parasitic litter of a species mix from the same communities. We expected the litter effect to be higher in the oligotrophic Pedicularis soil compared to the mesotrophic Rhinanthus soil. Gross N transformation rates were quantified using a N-15 tracing modeling approach. Differentially N-15 labeled NH4Cl + KNO3 was added to two soils with three treatments (control, soil amended with non-parasitic litter, soil amended with Rhinanthus or Pedicularis litter) in a laboratory incubation experiment. The concentration and 15N enrichment of NH4+ and NO3 in the soil were measured at six time points within one or two weeks (depending on the soil) after label addition. Hemiparasitic litter addition increased the overall cycling of N more compared to the addition of non-parasitic litter. Relative to the non-parasitic litter, addition of Rhinanthus litter increased the net flux from organic N to NH4+ by 61% and net (autotrophic) nitrification by 80%. Addition of Pedicularis litter increased the net flux from organic N to NH4+ by 28% relative to addition of non-parasitic litter, while there was no effect on nitrification. Surprisingly, gross mineralization of organic N to NH4+ decreased with litter addition for the Rhinanthus soil (control soil > nonparasitic litter > Rhinanthus litter), while it increased with litter addition in the Pedicularis soil (control soil < non-parasitic litter < Pedicularis litter). Our results support the hypothesis that litter from hemiparasitic plants increases soil N availability more than non-parasitic litter, but contradicts the expectation that the hemiparasitic litter effect would be more pronounced in an oligotrophic as compared to a mesotrophic system. This litter-induced augmentation in soil fertility provides in addition to the parasitic suppression of hosts a second potentially important pathway by which hemiparasitic plants impact on plant community composition. However, future research on P and K return via hemiparasitic litter should be considered. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. (Less)
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author
publishing date
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Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
decomposition, bartsia-alpina, water relations, parasitic plants, mineral nutrients, biomass, microbial, root hemiparasites, inorganic nitrogen, Rhinanthus, N transformations, Pedicularis, Hemiparasitic plants, Litter, Semi-natural grassland, functional-role
in
Soil Biology & Biochemistry
volume
68
pages
419 - 428
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:84887177053
ISSN
0038-0717
DOI
10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.10.025
project
MERGE
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
b404f289-3a42-46a7-8849-b4e4bfeb1172 (old id 7515481)
date added to LUP
2015-07-08 14:48:15
date last changed
2017-10-01 05:05:21
@article{b404f289-3a42-46a7-8849-b4e4bfeb1172,
  abstract     = {Hemiparasitic plants accumulate nutrients in their leaves and therefore produce high-quality litter with faster decomposition and nutrient release rates compared to non-parasitic litter. Higher levels of plant-available nitrogen (N) in the presence of hemiparasitic plants have been attributed to this 'litter effect', but effects on N dynamics in the soil remain unstudied. We tested the hypothesis that litter of Rhinanthus angustifolius and Pedicularis sylvatica increases N transformation rates in the soil more than non-parasitic litter of a species mix from the same communities. We expected the litter effect to be higher in the oligotrophic Pedicularis soil compared to the mesotrophic Rhinanthus soil. Gross N transformation rates were quantified using a N-15 tracing modeling approach. Differentially N-15 labeled NH4Cl + KNO3 was added to two soils with three treatments (control, soil amended with non-parasitic litter, soil amended with Rhinanthus or Pedicularis litter) in a laboratory incubation experiment. The concentration and 15N enrichment of NH4+ and NO3 in the soil were measured at six time points within one or two weeks (depending on the soil) after label addition. Hemiparasitic litter addition increased the overall cycling of N more compared to the addition of non-parasitic litter. Relative to the non-parasitic litter, addition of Rhinanthus litter increased the net flux from organic N to NH4+ by 61% and net (autotrophic) nitrification by 80%. Addition of Pedicularis litter increased the net flux from organic N to NH4+ by 28% relative to addition of non-parasitic litter, while there was no effect on nitrification. Surprisingly, gross mineralization of organic N to NH4+ decreased with litter addition for the Rhinanthus soil (control soil &gt; nonparasitic litter &gt; Rhinanthus litter), while it increased with litter addition in the Pedicularis soil (control soil &lt; non-parasitic litter &lt; Pedicularis litter). Our results support the hypothesis that litter from hemiparasitic plants increases soil N availability more than non-parasitic litter, but contradicts the expectation that the hemiparasitic litter effect would be more pronounced in an oligotrophic as compared to a mesotrophic system. This litter-induced augmentation in soil fertility provides in addition to the parasitic suppression of hosts a second potentially important pathway by which hemiparasitic plants impact on plant community composition. However, future research on P and K return via hemiparasitic litter should be considered. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.},
  author       = {Demey, A. and Rütting, Tobias and Huygens, D. and Staelens, J. and Hermy, M. and Verheyen, K. and Boeckx, P.},
  issn         = {0038-0717},
  keyword      = {decomposition,bartsia-alpina,water relations,parasitic plants,mineral nutrients,biomass,microbial,root hemiparasites,inorganic nitrogen,Rhinanthus,N transformations,Pedicularis,Hemiparasitic plants,Litter,Semi-natural grassland,functional-role},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {419--428},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Soil Biology & Biochemistry},
  title        = {Hemiparasitic litter additions alter gross nitrogen turnover in temperate semi-natural grassland soils},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.10.025},
  volume       = {68},
  year         = {2014},
}