Microbial nitrogen dynamics in organic and mineral soil horizons along a latitudinal transect in western Siberia

Wild, Birgit and Schnecker, Jörg and Knoltsch, Anna and Takriti, Mounir and Mooshammer, Maria and Gentsch, Norman and Mikutta, Robert and Alves, Ricardo J Eloy and Gittel, Antje and Lashchinskiy, Nikolay and Richter, Andreas (2015) Microbial nitrogen dynamics in organic and mineral soil horizons along a latitudinal transect in western Siberia. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 29 (5). pp. 567-582. ISSN 0886-6236

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Abstract

Soil N availability is constrained by the breakdown of N-containing polymers such as proteins to oligopeptides and amino acids that can be taken up by plants and microorganisms. Excess N is released from microbial cells as ammonium (N mineralization), which in turn can serve as substrate for nitrification. According to stoichiometric theory, N mineralization and nitrification are expected to increase in relation to protein depolymerization with decreasing N limitation, and thus from higher to lower latitudes and from topsoils to subsoils. To test these hypotheses, we compared gross rates of protein depolymerization, N mineralization and nitrification (determined using (15)N pool dilution assays) in organic topsoil, mineral topsoil, and mineral subsoil of seven ecosystems along a latitudinal transect in western Siberia, from tundra (67°N) to steppe (54°N). The investigated ecosystems differed strongly in N transformation rates, with highest protein depolymerization and N mineralization rates in middle and southern taiga. All N transformation rates decreased with soil depth following the decrease in organic matter content. Related to protein depolymerization, N mineralization and nitrification were significantly higher in mineral than in organic horizons, supporting a decrease in microbial N limitation with depth. In contrast, we did not find indications for a decrease in microbial N limitation from arctic to temperate ecosystems along the transect. Our findings thus challenge the perception of ubiquitous N limitation at high latitudes, but suggest a transition from N to C limitation of microorganisms with soil depth, even in high-latitude systems such as tundra and boreal forest.\n\nKEY POINTS: We compared soil N dynamics of seven ecosystems along a latitudinal transectShifts in N dynamics suggest a decrease in microbial N limitation with depthWe found no decrease in microbial N limitation from arctic to temperate zones.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Global Biogeochemical Cycles
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1900/1902
Subjects:
ID Code:
79564
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
17 May 2016 08:50
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
19 Aug 2020 03:05