Labile carbon input determines the direction and magnitude of the priming effect

Xiao Jun Allen Liu, Jingran Sun, Rebecca L. Mau, Brianna K. Finley, Zacchaeus G. Compson, Natasja van Gestel, Jamie R. Brown, Egbert Schwartz, Paul Dijkstra, Bruce A. Hungate

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  • 4 Citations

Abstract

Labile carbon (C) input to soil can accelerate or slow the decomposition of soil organic matter, a phenomenon called priming. However, priming is difficult to predict, making its relationship with C input elusive. To assess this relationship, we added 13C-glucose at five levels (8 to 1606 μg C g−1 week−1) to the soil from four different ecosystems for seven weeks. We observed a positive linear relationship between C input and priming in all soils: priming increased from negative or no priming at low C input to strong positive priming at high C input. However, the sensitivity of priming to C input varied among soils and between ways of expressing C input, and decreased with elevation. Positive substrate thresholds were detected in three soils (56 to 242 μg C g−1 week−1), suggesting the minimum C input required to trigger positive priming. Carbon input expressed as a fraction of microbial biomass explained 16.5% less variation in priming than did C input expressed as a fraction of dry soil mass, indicating that priming is not strongly related to the size of the soil microbial biomass. We conclude that priming increases with the rate of labile C input, once that rate exceeds a threshold, but the magnitude of increase varies among soils. Further research on mechanisms causing the variation of priming sensitivity to increasing labile C input might help promote a quantitative understanding of how such phenomenon impacts soil C cycling, offering the potential to improve earth system models.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages7-13
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Volume109
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

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carbon
soil
effect
Soil
Carbon
Direction compound
biomass
rate
microbial biomass
Biomass
soil organic matter
glucose
decomposition
substrate
ecosystem
degradation
ecosystems
Ecosystem
Glucose
Research

Keywords

  • C isotope tracer
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Rhizosphere priming
  • Root exudates
  • Soil respiration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Soil Science

Cite this

Liu, X. J. A., Sun, J., Mau, R. L., Finley, B. K., Compson, Z. G., van Gestel, N., ... Hungate, B. A. (2017). Labile carbon input determines the direction and magnitude of the priming effect. Applied Soil Ecology, 109, 7-13. DOI: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2016.10.002

Labile carbon input determines the direction and magnitude of the priming effect. / Liu, Xiao Jun Allen; Sun, Jingran; Mau, Rebecca L.; Finley, Brianna K.; Compson, Zacchaeus G.; van Gestel, Natasja; Brown, Jamie R.; Schwartz, Egbert; Dijkstra, Paul; Hungate, Bruce A.

In: Applied Soil Ecology, Vol. 109, 01.01.2017, p. 7-13.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Liu, XJA, Sun, J, Mau, RL, Finley, BK, Compson, ZG, van Gestel, N, Brown, JR, Schwartz, E, Dijkstra, P & Hungate, BA 2017, 'Labile carbon input determines the direction and magnitude of the priming effect' Applied Soil Ecology, vol 109, pp. 7-13. DOI: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2016.10.002
Liu XJA, Sun J, Mau RL, Finley BK, Compson ZG, van Gestel N et al. Labile carbon input determines the direction and magnitude of the priming effect. Applied Soil Ecology. 2017 Jan 1;109:7-13. Available from, DOI: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2016.10.002
Liu, Xiao Jun Allen ; Sun, Jingran ; Mau, Rebecca L. ; Finley, Brianna K. ; Compson, Zacchaeus G. ; van Gestel, Natasja ; Brown, Jamie R. ; Schwartz, Egbert ; Dijkstra, Paul ; Hungate, Bruce A./ Labile carbon input determines the direction and magnitude of the priming effect. In: Applied Soil Ecology. 2017 ; Vol. 109. pp. 7-13
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