Heuck, C; Weig, A; Spohn, M: Soil microbial biomass C:N:P stoichiometry and microbial use of organic phosphorus, Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 85, 119-129 (2015), online: 2015-03-12, doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2015.02.029
Microbial mineralization and immobilization of nutrients strongly influence soil fertility. We studied microbial biomass stoichiometry, microbial community composition, and microbial use of carbon (C) and phosphorus (P) derived from glucose-6-phosphate in the A and B horizons of two temperate Cambisols with contrasting P availability. In a first incubation experiment, C, nitrogen (N) and P were added to the soils in a full factorial design. Microbial biomass C, N and P concentrations were analyzed by the fumigation-extraction method and microbial community composition was analyzed by a community fingerprinting method (automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis, ARISA). In a second experiment, we compared microbial use of C and P from glucose-6-phosphate by adding 14C or 33P labeled glucose-6-phosphate to soil. In the first incubation experiment, the microbial biomass increased up to 30-fold due to addition of C, indicating that microbial growth was mainly C limited. Microbial biomass C:N:P stoichiometry changed more strongly due to element addition in the P-poor soils, than in the P-rich soils. The microbial community composition analysis showed that element additions led to stronger changes in the microbial community in the P-poor than in the P-rich soils. Therefore, the changed microbial biomass stoichiometry in the P-poor soils was likely caused by a shift in the microbial community composition. The total recovery of 14C derived from glucose-6-phosphate in the soil microbial biomass and in the respired CO2 ranged between 28.2 and 37.1% 66 h after addition of the tracer, while the recovery of 33P in the soil microbial biomass was 1.4–6.1%. This indicates that even in the P-poor soils microorganisms mineralized organic P and took up more C than P from the organic compound. Thus, microbial mineralization of organic P was driven by microbial need for C rather than for P. In conclusion, our experiments showed that (i) the microbial biomass stoichiometry in the P-poor soils was more susceptible to additions of C, N and P than in the P-rich soils and that (ii) even in the P-poor soils, microorganisms were C-limited and the mineralization of organic P was mainly driven by microbial C demand.
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