15N enrichment as an integrator of the effects of C and N on microbial metabolism and ecosystem function

Paul Dijkstra, Corinne M. Laviolette, Jeffrey S. Coyle, Richard R. Doucett, Egbert Schwartz, Stephen C. Hart, Bruce A Hungate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

88 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) are essential for heterotrophic soil microorganisms, and their bioavailability strongly influences ecosystem C and N cycling. We show here that the natural 15N abundance of the soil microbial biomass is affected by both the availability of C and N and ecosystem N processing. Microbial 15N enrichment correlated negatively with the C : N ratio of the soil soluble fraction and positively with net N mineralization for ecosystems spanning semiarid, temperate and tropical climates, grassland and forests, and over four million years of ecosystem development. In addition, during soil incubation, large increases in microbial 15N enrichment corresponded to high net N mineralization rates. These results support the idea that the N isotope composition of an organism is determined by the balance between N assimilation and dissimilation. Thus, 15N enrichment of the soil microbial biomass integrates the effects of C and N availability on microbial metabolism and ecosystem processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-397
Number of pages9
JournalEcology Letters
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2008

Fingerprint

ecosystem function
metabolism
ecosystems
ecosystem
microbial biomass
soil
mineralization
soil microorganism
biomass
semiarid zones
temperate zones
soil microorganisms
carbon nitrogen ratio
bioavailability
assimilation (physiology)
isotopes
tropics
grasslands
grassland
incubation

Keywords

  • δN
  • Carbon and nitrogen availability
  • Ecosystem function
  • N cycling
  • N mineralization
  • Resource availability
  • Soil microbial biomass
  • Stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

Cite this

15N enrichment as an integrator of the effects of C and N on microbial metabolism and ecosystem function. / Dijkstra, Paul; Laviolette, Corinne M.; Coyle, Jeffrey S.; Doucett, Richard R.; Schwartz, Egbert; Hart, Stephen C.; Hungate, Bruce A.

In: Ecology Letters, Vol. 11, No. 4, 04.2008, p. 389-397.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Dijkstra, Paul ; Laviolette, Corinne M. ; Coyle, Jeffrey S. ; Doucett, Richard R. ; Schwartz, Egbert ; Hart, Stephen C. ; Hungate, Bruce A. / 15N enrichment as an integrator of the effects of C and N on microbial metabolism and ecosystem function. In: Ecology Letters. 2008 ; Vol. 11, No. 4. pp. 389-397.
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AU - Laviolette, Corinne M.

AU - Coyle, Jeffrey S.

AU - Doucett, Richard R.

AU - Schwartz, Egbert

AU - Hart, Stephen C.

AU - Hungate, Bruce A

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AB - Organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) are essential for heterotrophic soil microorganisms, and their bioavailability strongly influences ecosystem C and N cycling. We show here that the natural 15N abundance of the soil microbial biomass is affected by both the availability of C and N and ecosystem N processing. Microbial 15N enrichment correlated negatively with the C : N ratio of the soil soluble fraction and positively with net N mineralization for ecosystems spanning semiarid, temperate and tropical climates, grassland and forests, and over four million years of ecosystem development. In addition, during soil incubation, large increases in microbial 15N enrichment corresponded to high net N mineralization rates. These results support the idea that the N isotope composition of an organism is determined by the balance between N assimilation and dissimilation. Thus, 15N enrichment of the soil microbial biomass integrates the effects of C and N availability on microbial metabolism and ecosystem processes.

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KW - Ecosystem function

KW - N cycling

KW - N mineralization

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KW - Soil microbial biomass

KW - Stable isotopes

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