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Title: Effects of initial microbial biomass abundance on respiration during pine litter decomposition

Abstract

Microbial biomass is increasingly used to predict respiration in soil organic carbon (SOC) models. Its increased use combined with the difficulty of accurately measuring this variable points a need to directly assess the importance of microbial biomass abundance for carbon (C) cycling. To test the hypothesis that the initial microbial biomass abundance (i.e. biomass abundance on new plant litter) is a strong driver of plant litter C cycling, we manipulated biomass abundance by 10 and 100-fold dilution and composition using 12 source communities on sterile pine litter and measured respiration in microcosms for 30 days. In the first two days of microbial growth on fresh litter, a 100-fold difference in initial biomass abundance caused an average difference in respiration of nearly 300%, but the effect rapidly declined to less than 30% in 10 days and to 14% in 30 days. Parallel simulations with a soil carbon model, SOMIC 1.0, also predicted a 14% difference over 30 days, consistent with the experimental results. Model simulations predicted convergence of cumulative CO2 to within 10% in three months and within 4% in three years. Rapid microbial growth, evidenced by appearance of visible microbial mats on the litter during the first week of incubation,more » likely attenuates the effects of large initial differences in biomass abundance. In contrast, the persistence of source community as an explanatory factor in driving differences in respiration across microcosms supports the importance of microbial composition in C cycling. Overall, the results suggest that the initial abundance of microbial biomass on litter is a weak driver of C flux from litter decomposition over long timescales (months to years) when litter communities have equal nutrient availability. By extension, slight variation in the timing of microbial dispersal to fresh litter is likely to be a minor factor in long-term C flux.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER)
OSTI Identifier:
1599693
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1630847
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-18-26253
Journal ID: ISSN 1932-6203; 10.1371/journal.pone.0224641
Grant/Contract Number:  
F255LANL2018; 89233218CNA000001
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
PLoS ONE
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: PLoS ONE Journal Volume: 15 Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher:
Public Library of Science
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; biomass; decomposition; community composition; CO2 flux; microcosms; carbon cycling

Citation Formats

Albright, Michaeline B. N., Runde, Andreas, Lopez, Deanna, Gans, Jason, Sevanto, Sanna, Woolf, Dominic, Dunbar, John, and Rinnan, ed., Riikka. Effects of initial microbial biomass abundance on respiration during pine litter decomposition. United States: N. p., 2020. Web. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0224641.
Albright, Michaeline B. N., Runde, Andreas, Lopez, Deanna, Gans, Jason, Sevanto, Sanna, Woolf, Dominic, Dunbar, John, & Rinnan, ed., Riikka. Effects of initial microbial biomass abundance on respiration during pine litter decomposition. United States. doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224641
Albright, Michaeline B. N., Runde, Andreas, Lopez, Deanna, Gans, Jason, Sevanto, Sanna, Woolf, Dominic, Dunbar, John, and Rinnan, ed., Riikka. Fri . "Effects of initial microbial biomass abundance on respiration during pine litter decomposition". United States. doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224641.
@article{osti_1599693,
title = {Effects of initial microbial biomass abundance on respiration during pine litter decomposition},
author = {Albright, Michaeline B. N. and Runde, Andreas and Lopez, Deanna and Gans, Jason and Sevanto, Sanna and Woolf, Dominic and Dunbar, John and Rinnan, ed., Riikka},
abstractNote = {Microbial biomass is increasingly used to predict respiration in soil organic carbon (SOC) models. Its increased use combined with the difficulty of accurately measuring this variable points a need to directly assess the importance of microbial biomass abundance for carbon (C) cycling. To test the hypothesis that the initial microbial biomass abundance (i.e. biomass abundance on new plant litter) is a strong driver of plant litter C cycling, we manipulated biomass abundance by 10 and 100-fold dilution and composition using 12 source communities on sterile pine litter and measured respiration in microcosms for 30 days. In the first two days of microbial growth on fresh litter, a 100-fold difference in initial biomass abundance caused an average difference in respiration of nearly 300%, but the effect rapidly declined to less than 30% in 10 days and to 14% in 30 days. Parallel simulations with a soil carbon model, SOMIC 1.0, also predicted a 14% difference over 30 days, consistent with the experimental results. Model simulations predicted convergence of cumulative CO2 to within 10% in three months and within 4% in three years. Rapid microbial growth, evidenced by appearance of visible microbial mats on the litter during the first week of incubation, likely attenuates the effects of large initial differences in biomass abundance. In contrast, the persistence of source community as an explanatory factor in driving differences in respiration across microcosms supports the importance of microbial composition in C cycling. Overall, the results suggest that the initial abundance of microbial biomass on litter is a weak driver of C flux from litter decomposition over long timescales (months to years) when litter communities have equal nutrient availability. By extension, slight variation in the timing of microbial dispersal to fresh litter is likely to be a minor factor in long-term C flux.},
doi = {10.1371/journal.pone.0224641},
journal = {PLoS ONE},
number = 2,
volume = 15,
place = {United States},
year = {2020},
month = {2}
}

Journal Article:
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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224641

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