Rates of in situ carbon mineralization in relation to land-use, microbial community and edaphic characteristics

Journal Article

Plant-derived carbon compounds enter soils in a number of forms; two of the most abundant being leaf litter and rhizodeposition. Our knowledge concerning the predominant controls on the cycling of leaf litter far outweighs that for rhizodeposition even though the constituents of rhizodeposits includes a cocktail of low molecular weight organic compounds which represent a rapidly cycling source of carbon, readily available to soil microbes. We determined the mineralization dynamics of a major rhizodeposit, glucose, and its relationship to land-use, microbial community and edaphic characteristics across a landscape in the southeastern United States. The landscape consists of cultivated, pasture, pine plantation, and hardwood forest sites (n = 3). Mineralization dynamics were resolved in both winter and summer using an in situ 13C-glucose pulse-chase approach. Mineralization rates of the labeled glucose decline exponentially across the 72 h measurement periods. This pattern and absolute mineralization rates are consistent across seasons. An information-theoretic approach reveals that land-use is a moderately strong predictor of cumulative glucose mineralization. Measures assessing the size, activity, and/or composition of the microbial community were poor predictors of glucose mineralization. The strongest predictor of glucose mineralization was soil-extractable phosphorus. It was positively related to glucose mineralization across seasons and explained 60% and 48% of variation in cumulative glucose mineralization in the summer and winter, respectively. We discuss potential mechanisms underlying the relationship between soil phosphorus and glucose mineralization. Our results suggest that specific soil characteristics often related to land-use and/or land-management decisions may be strong predictors of glucose mineralization rates across a landscape. We emphasize the need for future research into the role of soil phosphorus availability and land-use history in determining soil organic carbon dynamics. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Strickland, MS; Jr, MAC; Davies, CA; Lauber, CL; Ramirez, K; Jr, DDR; Fierer, N; Bradford, MA

Published Date

  • 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 42 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 260 - 269

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0038-0717

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.soilbio.2009.10.026