|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: 12.03.2015, 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.