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Land use driven change in soil pH affects microbial carbon cycling processes

Malik, A. A., Puissant, J., Buckeridge, K. M., Goodall, T., Jehmlich, N., Chowdhury, S., Gweon, H. S., Peyton, J. M., Mason, K. E., van Agtmaal, M., Blaud, A., Clark, I. M., Whitaker, J., Pywell, R. F., Ostle, N., Gleixner, G. and Griffiths, R. I. (2018) Land use driven change in soil pH affects microbial carbon cycling processes. Nature Communications, 9 (1). 3591. ISSN 2041-1723

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05980-1

Abstract/Summary

Soil microorganisms act as gatekeepers for soil-atmosphere carbon exchange by balancing the accumulation and release of soil organic matter. However, poor understanding of the mechanisms responsible hinders the development of effective land management strategies to enhance soil carbon storage. Here we empirically test the link between microbial ecophysiological traits and topsoil carbon content across geographically distributed soils and land use contrasts. We discovered distinct pH controls on microbial mechanisms of carbon accumulation. Land use intensification in low-pH soils that increased the pH above a threshold (~6.2) leads to carbon loss through increased decomposition, following alleviation of acid retardation of microbial growth. However, loss of carbon with intensification in near-neutral pH soils was linked to decreased microbial biomass and reduced growth efficiency that was, in turn, related to trade-offs with stress alleviation and resource acquisition. Thus, less-intensive management practices in near-neutral pH soils have more potential for carbon storage through increased microbial growth efficiency, whereas in acidic soils, microbial growth is a bigger constraint on decomposition rates.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:78980
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group

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