Soil Conditions Rather Than Long-Term Exposure to Elevated CO2 Affect Soil Microbial Communities Associated with N-Cycling.

authored by
Kristof Brenzinger, Katharina Kujala, Marcus A. Horn, Gerald Moser, Cécile Guillet, Claudia Kammann, Christoph Müller, Gesche Braker

Continuously rising atmospheric CO

2 concentrations may lead to an increased transfer of organic C from plants to the soil through rhizodeposition and may affect the interaction between the C- and N-cycle. For instance, fumigation of soils with elevated CO

2 (eCO

2) concentrations (20% higher compared to current atmospheric concentrations) at the Giessen Free-Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (GiFACE) sites resulted in a more than 2-fold increase of long-term N

2O emissions and an increase in dissimilatory reduction of nitrate compared to ambient CO

2 (aCO

2). We hypothesized that the observed differences in soil functioning were based on differences in the abundance and composition of microbial communities in general and especially of those which are responsible for N-transformations in soil. We also expected eCO

2 effects on soil parameters, such as on nitrate as previously reported. To explore the impact of long-term eCO

2 on soil microbial communities, we applied a molecular approach (qPCR, T-RFLP, and 454 pyrosequencing). Microbial groups were analyzed in soil of three sets of two FACE plots (three replicate samples from each plot), which were fumigated with eCO

2 and aCO

2, respectively. N-fixers, denitrifiers, archaeal and bacterial ammonia oxidizers, and dissimilatory nitrate reducers producing ammonia were targeted by analysis of functional marker genes, and the overall archaeal community by 16S rRNA genes. Remarkably, soil parameters as well as the abundance and composition of microbial communities in the top soil under eCO

2 differed only slightly from soil under aCO

2. Wherever differences in microbial community abundance and composition were detected, they were not linked to CO

2 level but rather determined by differences in soil parameters (e.g., soil moisture content) due to the localization of the GiFACE sets in the experimental field. We concluded that +20% eCO

2 had little to no effect on the overall microbial community involved in N-cycling in the soil but that spatial heterogeneity over extended periods had shaped microbial communities at particular sites in the field. Hence, microbial community composition and abundance alone cannot explain the functional differences leading to higher N

2O emissions under eCO

2 and future studies should aim at exploring the active members of the soil microbial community.

Institute of Microbiology
External Organisation(s)
Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology (MPIterMic)
Justus Liebig University Giessen
University of Oulu
University of Bayreuth
Hochschule Geisenheim University
University College Dublin
Kiel University
Frontiers in microbiology
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Microbiology, Microbiology (medical)
Electronic version(s) (Access: Open) (Access: Open)