University of Oulu

Konstantin Gavazov, Alberto Canarini, Vincent E.J. Jassey, Robert Mills, Andreas Richter, Maja K. Sundqvist, Maria Väisänen, Tom W.N. Walker, David A. Wardle, Ellen Dorrepaal, Plant-microbial linkages underpin carbon sequestration in contrasting mountain tundra vegetation types, Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Volume 165, 2022, 108530, ISSN 0038-0717,

Plant-microbial linkages underpin carbon sequestration in contrasting mountain tundra vegetation types

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Author: Gavazov, Konstantin1,2; Canarini, Alberto3; Jassey, Vincent E. J.4;
Organizations: 1Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, 1015, Lausanne, Switzerland
2Climate Impacts Research Centre, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Umeå Universitet, 98107, Abisko, Sweden
3Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science, Division of Terrestrial Ecosystem Research, University of Vienna, 1090, Vienna, Austria
4ECOLAB, Laboratoire D’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Environnement, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, Toulouse, France
5Department of Environment and Geography, University of York, YO10 5DD, York, United Kingdom
6Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 901 83, Umeå, Sweden
7Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, 90014, Oulu, Finland
8Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, 96101, Rovaniemi, Finland
9Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zürich, 8092, Zürich, Switzerland
10Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, 2000, Neuchâtel, Switzerland
11Asian School of the Environment, Nanyang Technological University, 639798, Singapore
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 5.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-01-04


Tundra ecosystems hold large stocks of soil organic matter (SOM), likely due to low temperatures limiting rates of microbial SOM decomposition more than those of SOM accumulation from plant primary productivity and microbial necromass inputs. Here we test the hypotheses that distinct tundra vegetation types and their carbon supply to characteristic rhizosphere microbes determine SOM cycling independent of temperature. In the subarctic Scandes, we used a three-way factorial design with paired heath and meadow vegetation at each of two elevations, and with each combination of vegetation type and elevation subjected during one growing season to either ambient light (i.e., ambient plant productivity), or 95% shading (i.e., reduced plant productivity). We assessed potential above- and belowground ecosystem linkages by uni- and multivariate analyses of variance, and structural equation modelling. We observed direct coupling between tundra vegetation type and microbial community composition and function, which underpinned the ecosystem's potential for SOM storage. Greater primary productivity at low elevation and ambient light supported higher microbial biomass and nitrogen immobilisation, with lower microbial mass-specific enzymatic activity and SOM humification. Congruently, larger SOM at lower elevation and in heath sustained fungal-dominated microbial communities, which were less substrate-limited, and invested less into enzymatic SOM mineralisation, owing to a greater carbon-use efficiency (CUE). Our results highlight the importance of tundra plant community characteristics (i.e., productivity and vegetation type), via their effects on soil microbial community size, structure and physiology, as essential drivers of SOM turnover. The here documented concerted patterns in above- and belowground ecosystem functioning is strongly supportive of using plant community characteristics as surrogates for assessing tundra carbon storage potential and its evolution under climate and vegetation changes.

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Series: Soil biology & biochemistry
ISSN: 0038-0717
ISSN-E: 1879-3428
ISSN-L: 0038-0717
Volume: 165
Article number: 108530
DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2021.108530
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1183 Plant biology, microbiology, virology
Funding: The study benefitted from internal CIRC funding for the use of the Abisko Scientific Research Station, kindly operated by the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat. K.G. was further supported by funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant no. PZ00P2_174047).
Copyright information: © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (