13C and 15N natural abundance of the soil microbial biomass

Paul Dijkstra, Ayaka Ishizu, Richard Doucett, Stephen C. Hart, Egbert Schwartz, Oleg V. Menyailo, Bruce A Hungate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

149 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Stable isotope analysis is a powerful tool in the study of soil organic matter formation. It is often observed that more decomposed soil organic matter is 13C, and especially 15N-enriched relative to fresh litter and recent organic matter. We investigated whether this shift in isotope composition relates to the isotope composition of the microbial biomass, an important source for soil organic matter. We developed a new approach to determine the natural abundance C and N isotope composition of the microbial biomass across a broad range of soil types, vegetation, and climates. We found consistently that the soil microbial biomass was 15N-enriched relative to the total (3.2 ‰) and extractable N pools (3.7 ‰), and 13C-enriched relative to the extractable C pool (2.5 ‰). The microbial biomass was also 13C-enriched relative to total C for soils that exhibited a C3-plant signature (1.6 ‰), but 13C-depleted for soils with a C4 signature (-1.1 ‰). The latter was probably associated with an increase of annual C3 forbs in C4 grasslands after an extreme drought. These findings are in agreement with the proposed contribution of microbial products to the stabilized soil organic matter and may help explain the shift in isotope composition during soil organic matter formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3257-3266
Number of pages10
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Volume38
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2006

Fingerprint

Biomass
microbial biomass
soil organic matter
Soil
Soils
Biological materials
isotope
isotopes
biomass
Isotopes
soil
C3 plant
Chemical analysis
C3 plants
forbs
soil type
litter
stable isotope
grassland
drought

Keywords

  • C
  • N
  • Carbon
  • Natural abundance
  • Nitrogen
  • Soil organic matter
  • Stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Biochemistry
  • Ecology

Cite this

13C and 15N natural abundance of the soil microbial biomass. / Dijkstra, Paul; Ishizu, Ayaka; Doucett, Richard; Hart, Stephen C.; Schwartz, Egbert; Menyailo, Oleg V.; Hungate, Bruce A.

In: Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Vol. 38, No. 11, 11.2006, p. 3257-3266.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Dijkstra, Paul ; Ishizu, Ayaka ; Doucett, Richard ; Hart, Stephen C. ; Schwartz, Egbert ; Menyailo, Oleg V. ; Hungate, Bruce A. / 13C and 15N natural abundance of the soil microbial biomass. In: Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 2006 ; Vol. 38, No. 11. pp. 3257-3266.
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