University of Oulu

Brenzinger K, Kujala K, Horn MA, Moser G, Guillet C, Kammann C, Müller C and Braker G (2017) Soil Conditions Rather Than Long-Term Exposure to Elevated CO2 Affect Soil Microbial Communities Associated with N-Cycling. Front. Microbiol. 8:1976. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01976

Soil conditions rather than long-term exposure to elevated CO₂ affect soil microbial communities associated with N-cycling

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Author: Brenzinger, Kristof1,2; Kujala, Katharina3; Horn, Marcus A.4,5;
Organizations: 1Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology
2Department of Plant Ecology, University of Giessen
3Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu
4Department of Ecological Microbiology, University of Bayreuth
5Institute of Microbiology, Leibniz Universität Hannover
6Climate Change Research for Special Crops, Department of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, Geisenheim University
7School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin
8University of Kiel
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2017
Publish Date: 2018-01-09


Continuously rising atmospheric CO₂ concentrations may lead to an increased transfer of organic C from plants to the soil through rhizodeposition and may affect the interaction between the C- and N-cycle. For instance, fumigation of soils with elevated CO₂ (eCO₂) concentrations (20% higher compared to current atmospheric concentrations) at the Giessen Free-Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (GiFACE) sites resulted in a more than 2-fold increase of long-term N₂O emissions and an increase in dissimilatory reduction of nitrate compared to ambient CO₂ (aCO₂). We hypothesized that the observed differences in soil functioning were based on differences in the abundance and composition of microbial communities in general and especially of those which are responsible for N-transformations in soil. We also expected eCO₂ effects on soil parameters, such as on nitrate as previously reported. To explore the impact of long-term eCO₂ on soil microbial communities, we applied a molecular approach (qPCR, T-RFLP, and 454 pyrosequencing). Microbial groups were analyzed in soil of three sets of two FACE plots (three replicate samples from each plot), which were fumigated with eCO₂ and aCO₂, respectively. N-fixers, denitrifiers, archaeal and bacterial ammonia oxidizers, and dissimilatory nitrate reducers producing ammonia were targeted by analysis of functional marker genes, and the overall archaeal community by 16S rRNA genes. Remarkably, soil parameters as well as the abundance and composition of microbial communities in the top soil under eCO₂ differed only slightly from soil under aCO₂. Wherever differences in microbial community abundance and composition were detected, they were not linked to CO₂ level but rather determined by differences in soil parameters (e.g., soil moisture content) due to the localization of the GiFACE sets in the experimental field. We concluded that +20% eCO₂ had little to no effect on the overall microbial community involved in N-cycling in the soil but that spatial heterogeneity over extended periods had shaped microbial communities at particular sites in the field. Hence, microbial community composition and abundance alone cannot explain the functional differences leading to higher N₂O emissions under eCO₂ and future studies should aim at exploring the active members of the soil microbial community.

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Series: Frontiers in microbiology
ISSN: 1664-302X
ISSN-E: 1664-302X
ISSN-L: 1664-302X
Volume: 8
Article number: 1976
DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01976
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1183 Plant biology, microbiology, virology
1172 Environmental sciences
Funding: The project has been funded by a grant of the German Science Foundation (DFG)-Project MU1302/6-1 to CM and GB, by the Max-Planck Society, by FACE2FACE within the LOEWE research fund for the development of scientific and economic excellence of the federal state Hessian, and by the Hessian Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology (HLNUG).
Dataset Reference: The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at:
Copyright information: © 2017 Brenzinger, Kujala, Horn, Moser, Guillet, Kammann, Müller and Braker. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.