Microbial Mechanisms Mediating Increased Soil C Storage under Elevated Atmospheric N Deposition

TitleMicrobial Mechanisms Mediating Increased Soil C Storage under Elevated Atmospheric N Deposition
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsEisenlord S.D, Freedman Z., Zak D.R, Xue K., He Z., Zhou J.
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Pagination1191 - 1199
Date Published02/2013

Future rates of anthropogenic N deposition can slow the cycling and enhance the storage of C in forest ecosystems. In a northern hardwood forest ecosystem, experimental N deposition has decreased the extent of forest floor decay, leading to increased soil C storage. To better understand the microbial mechanisms mediating this response, we examined the functional genes derived from communities of actinobacteria and fungi present in the forest floor using GeoChip 4.0, a high-throughput functional-gene microarray. The compositions of functional genes derived from actinobacterial and fungal communities was significantly altered by experimental nitrogen deposition, with more heterogeneity detected in both groups. Experimental N deposition significantly decreased the richness and diversity of genes involved in the depolymerization of starch (12%), hemicellulose (16%), cellulose (16%), chitin (15%), and lignin (16%). The decrease in richness occurred across all taxonomic groupings detected by the microarray. The compositions of genes encoding oxidoreductases, which plausibly mediate lignin decay, were responsible for much of the observed dissimilarity between actinobacterial communities under ambient and experimental N deposition. This shift in composition and decrease in richness and diversity of genes encoding enzymes that mediate the decay process has occurred in parallel with a reduction in the extent of decay and accumulation of soil organic matter. Our observations indicate that compositional changes in actinobacterial and fungal communities elicited by experimental N deposition have functional implications for the cycling and storage of carbon in forest ecosystems.