Effects of nitrogen and phosphorus addition on microbial community composition and element cycling in a grassland soil

Meike Widdig, Anna Heintz-Buschart, Per Marten Schleuss, Alexander Guhr, Elizabeth T. Borer, Eric W. Seabloom, Marie Spohn

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1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Microorganisms mediate nutrient cycling in soils, and thus it is assumed that they largely control responses of terrestrial ecosystems to anthropogenic nutrient inputs. Therefore, it is important to understand how increased nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) availabilities, first, affect soil prokaryotic and fungal community composition and second, if and how changes in the community composition affect soil element cycling. We measured soil microbial communities and soil element cycling processes along a nine-year old experimental N-addition gradient partially crossed with a P-addition treatment in a temperate grassland. Nitrogen addition affected microbial community composition, and prokaryotic communities were less sensitive to N addition than fungal communities. P addition only marginally affected microbial community composition, indicating that P is less selective than N for microbial taxa in this grassland. Soil pH and total organic carbon (C) concentration were the main factors associated with prokaryotic community composition, while the dissolved organic C-to-dissolved N ratio was the predominant driver of fungal community composition. Against our expectation, plant biomass and plant community structure only explained a small proportion of the microbial community composition. Although microbial community composition changed with nutrient addition, microbial biomass concentrations and respiration rates did not change, indicating functional redundancy of the microbial community. Microbial respiration, net N mineralization, and non-symbiotic N2 fixation were more strongly controlled by abiotic factors than by plant biomass, plant community structure or microbial community, showing that community shifts under increasing nutrient inputs may not necessarily be reflected in element cycling rates. This study suggests that atmospheric N deposition may impact the composition of fungi more than of prokaryotes and that nutrient inputs act directly on element-cycling rates as opposed to being mediated through shifts in plant or microbial community composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108041
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Volume151
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M. Spohn thanks the German Research Foundation for funding this study through the Emmy Noether-program (grant SP1389/6-1). Coordination and data management of the Nutrient Network have been supported by funding to E. Borer and E. Seabloom from the National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network (NSF-DEB-1042132) and Long Term Ecological Research (DEB-1234162 and DEB-1831944 to Cedar Creek LTER) programs, and the Institute on the Environment (DG-0001-13). A. Heintz-Buschart was funded by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig of the German Research Foundation (FZT 118, DFG 202548816). We thank Renate Krauss, Uwe Hell, and Karin S?llner for technical assistance, the chemical analytics (CAN) of the Bayreuth Centre of Ecological and Environmental Research (BayCEER) for performing parts of the chemical analyses, the Laboratory of Isotope Biogeochemistry at the University of Bayreuth for measuring 15N isotopes, and Beatrix Schnabel of the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) for sequencing. We thank Eduardo Vazquez for his helpful comments on a previous version of the manuscript. The community composition data have in part been computed at the High-Performance Computing (HPC) Cluster EVE, a joint effort of both the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig.

Funding Information:
M. Spohn thanks the German Research Foundation for funding this study through the Emmy Noether-program (grant SP1389/6-1 ). Coordination and data management of the Nutrient Network have been supported by funding to E. Borer and E. Seabloom from the National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network ( NSF-DEB-1042132 ) and Long Term Ecological Research ( DEB-1234162 and DEB-1831944 to Cedar Creek LTER) programs, and the Institute on the Environment ( DG-0001-13 ). A. Heintz-Buschart was funded by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig of the German Research Foundation ( FZT 118 , DFG 202548816 ). We thank Renate Krauss, Uwe Hell, and Karin Söllner for technical assistance, the chemical analytics (CAN) of the Bayreuth Centre of Ecological and Environmental Research (BayCEER) for performing parts of the chemical analyses, the Laboratory of Isotope Biogeochemistry at the University of Bayreuth for measuring 15 N isotopes, and Beatrix Schnabel of the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) for sequencing. We thank Eduardo Vazquez for his helpful comments on a previous version of the manuscript. The community composition data have in part been computed at the High-Performance Computing (HPC) Cluster EVE, a joint effort of both the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig.

Keywords

  • Bacterial community composition
  • Carbon mineralization
  • Functional redundancy
  • Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Nutrient network (NutNet)

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