Litter VOCs induce changes in soil microbial biomass C and N and largely increase soil CO 2 efflux

Asensio D., Yuste J.C., Mattana S., Ribas À., Llusià J., Peñuelas J. (2012) Litter VOCs induce changes in soil microbial biomass C and N and largely increase soil CO 2 efflux. Plant and Soil. 360: 163-174.
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Doi: 10.1007/s11104-012-1220-9

Resumen:

Aims: We investigated the effects of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by pine litter, specifically terpenes, on soil microbial biomass carbon and nitrogen and heterotrophic soil respiration under different microclimatic scenarios of water availability and temperature. Methods: Soil in glass jars (0.6 L headspace) was exposed to pine needle litter, avoiding any physical contact between soils and litter. Treatments were subjected to two moisture levels, control and drought (20 % and 10 % gravimetric soil water content respectively) and to different temperatures (temperature response curve from 5 °C to 45 °C). Results: In control soils, exposure to litter was associated with a significant decrease in microbial biomass carbon and ninhydrin extractable organic nitrogen, and with a significant increase in heterotrophic respiration (up to 46 %) under optimum temperature (25 °C). Drought, on the other hand, restricted the effects of litter exposure on heterotrophic respiration but exposure to litter was associated with a significant increase in microbial biomass nitrogen. We did not detect significant overall microbial consumption of terpenes in this study. Conclusions: These results suggest either that other VOCs not measured in the study were being consumed and/or that VOCs emissions were triggering strong changes in the composition and functioning of soil microbial communities. More studies under field conditions are needed to assess the magnitude of litter VOCs effects on carbon and nitrogen cycles. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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Drought-resistant fungi control soil organic matter decomposition and its response to temperature

Yuste J.C., Peñuelas J., Estiarte M., Garcia-Mas J., Mattana S., Ogaya R., Pujol M., Sardans J. (2011) Drought-resistant fungi control soil organic matter decomposition and its response to temperature. Global Change Biology. 17: 1475-1486.
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Doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02300.x

Resumen:

Microbial-mediated decomposition of soil organic matter (SOM) ultimately makes a considerable contribution to soil respiration, which is typically the main source of CO2 arising from terrestrial ecosystems. Despite this central role in the decomposition of SOM, few studies have been conducted on how climate change may affect the soil microbial community and, furthermore, on how possible climate-change induced alterations in the ecology of microbial communities may affect soil CO2 emissions. Here we present the results of a seasonal study on soil microbial community structure, SOM decomposition and its temperature sensitivity in two representative Mediterranean ecosystems where precipitation/throughfall exclusion has taken place during the last 10 years. Bacterial and fungal diversity was estimated using the terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism technique. Our results show that fungal diversity was less sensitive to seasonal changes in moisture, temperature and plant activity than bacterial diversity. On the other hand, fungal communities showed the ability to dynamically adapt throughout the seasons. Fungi also coped better with the 10 years of precipitation/throughfall exclusion compared with bacteria. The high resistance of fungal diversity to changes with respect to bacteria may open the controversy as to whether future 'drier conditions' for Mediterranean regions might favor fungal dominated microbial communities. Finally, our results indicate that the fungal community exerted a strong influence over the temporal and spatial variability of SOM decomposition and its sensitivity to temperature. The results, therefore, highlight the important role of fungi in the decomposition of terrestrial SOM, especially under the harsh environmental conditions of Mediterranean ecosystems, for which models predict even drier conditions in the future. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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