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Drying and rewetting effects on soil microbial community composition and nutrient leaching.

Gordon, Helen and Haygarth, Philip M. and Bardgett, Richard D. (2008) Drying and rewetting effects on soil microbial community composition and nutrient leaching. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 40 (2). pp. 302-311. ISSN 0038-0717

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Abstract

The effects of a dry-rewetting event (D/RW) on soil microbial properties and nutrient release by leaching from two soils taken from adjacent grasslands with different histories of management intensity were studied. These were a low-productivity grassland, with no history of fertilizer application and a high-productivity grassland with a history of high fertilizer application, referred to as unimproved and improved grassland, respectively. The use of phospholipid fatty acid analysis (PLFA) revealed that the soil of the unimproved grassland had a significantly greater microbial biomass, and a greater abundance of fungi relative to bacteria than did the improved grassland. Soils from both grasslands were maintained at 55% water holding capacity (WHC) or dried to 10% WHC and rewetted to 55% WHC, and then sampled on days 1, 3, 9, 16, 30 and 50 after rewetting. The D/RW stress significantly reduced microbial biomass carbon (C), fungal PLFA and the ratio of fungal-to-bacterial PLFA in both soils. In contrast, D/RW increased microbial activity, but had no effect on total PLFA and bacterial PLFA in either soil. Microbial biomass nitrogen (N) was reduced significantly by D/RW in both soils, but especially in those of the improved grassland. In terms of nutrient leaching, the D/RW stress significantly increased concentrations of dissolved organic C and dissolved organic N in leachates taken from the improved soil only. This treatment increased the concentration of dissolved inorganic N in leachate of both soils, but this effect was most pronounced in the improved soil. Overall, our data show that D/RW stress leads to greater nutrient leaching from improved than from unimproved grassland soils, which have a greater microbial biomass and abundance of fungi relative to bacteria. This finding supports the notion that soils with more fungal-rich communities are better able to retain nutrients under D/RW than are their intensively managed counterparts with lower fungal to bacterial ratios, and that D/RW can enhance nutrient leaching with potential implications for water quality.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Soil Biology and Biochemistry
Uncontrolled Keywords: Grassland ; Carbon ; Dissolved organic carbon ; Dissolved organic nitrogen ; Dissolved inorganic nitrogen ; Drying and rewetting ; Leaching ; Leachates ; Microbial biomass ; Nitrogen ; PLFA ; Nutrient retention and release
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Departments:
ID Code: 31343
Deposited By: Mr Richard Ingham
Deposited On: 11 Jan 2010 11:47
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2014 14:50
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/31343

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