University of Oulu

Beat Frey, Barbara Moser, Bjorn Tytgat, Stephan Zimmermann, Juan Alberti, Lori A. Biederman, Elizabeth T. Borer, Arthur A.D. Broadbent, Maria C. Caldeira, Kendi F. Davies, Nico Eisenhauer, Anu Eskelinen, Philip A. Fay, Frank Hagedorn, Yann Hautier, Andrew S. MacDougall, Rebecca L. McCulley, Joslin L. Moore, Maximilian Nepel, Sally A. Power, Eric W. Seabloom, Eduardo Vázquez, Risto Virtanen, Laura Yahdjian, Anita C. Risch, Long-term N-addition alters the community structure of functionally important N-cycling soil microorganisms across global grasslands, Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Volume 176, 2023, 108887, ISSN 0038-0717,

Long-term N-addition alters the community structure of functionally important N-cycling soil microorganisms across global grasslands

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Author: Frey, Beat1; Moser, Barbara1; Tytgat, Bjorn2;
Organizations: 1Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
2Department of Biology, Laboratory of Protistology and Aquatic Ecology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
3Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (IIMyC), CONICET – UNMDP, Mar del Plata, Argentina
4Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA
5Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN, USA
6Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
7Centro de Estudos Florestais, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
8Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
9German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
10Institute of Biology, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany
11Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
12Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
13USDA-ARS Grassland, Soil, and Water Research Laboratory, Temple, TX, USA
14Ecology and Biodiversity Group, Department of Biology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
15Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada
16Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA
17School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Clayton Campus, Vic., Australia
18Department of Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
19Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW, Australia
20Department of Soil Ecology, Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research (BayCEER), University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
21Facultad de Agronomía, IFEVA, Universidad de Buenos Aires, CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-07-13


Anthropogenic nitrogen (N) input is known to alter the soil microbiome, but how N enrichment influences the abundance, alpha-diversity and community structure of N-cycling functional microbial communities in grasslands remains poorly understood. Here, we collected soils from plant communities subjected to up to 9 years of annual N-addition (10 g N m⁻² per year using urea as a N-source) and from unfertilized plots (control) in 30 grasslands worldwide spanning a large range of climatic and soil conditions. We focused on three key microbial groups responsible for two essential processes of the global N cycle: N₂ fixation (soil diazotrophs) and nitrification (AOA: ammonia-oxidizing archaea and AOB: ammonia-oxidizing bacteria). We targeted soil diazotrophs, AOA and AOB using Illumina MiSeq sequencing and measured the abundance (gene copy numbers) using quantitative PCR. N-addition shifted the structure of the diazotrophic communities, although their alpha-diversity and abundance were not affected. AOA and AOB responded differently to N-addition. The abundance and alpha-diversity of AOB increased, and their community structure shifted with N-addition. In contrast, AOA were not affected by N-addition. AOA abundance outnumbered AOB in control plots under conditions of low N availability, whereas N-addition favoured copiotrophic AOB. Overall, N-addition showed a low impact on soil diazotrophs and AOA while effects for AOB communities were considerable. These results reveal that long-term N-addition has important ecological implications for key microbial groups involved in two critical soil N-cycling processes. Increased AOB abundance and community shifts following N-addition may change soil N-cycling, as larger population sizes may promote higher rates of ammonia oxidation and subsequently increase N loss via gaseous and soil N-leaching. These findings bring us a step closer to predicting the responses and feedbacks of microbial-mediated N-cycling processes to long-term anthropogenic N-addition in grasslands.

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Series: Soil biology & biochemistry
ISSN: 0038-0717
ISSN-E: 1879-3428
ISSN-L: 0038-0717
Volume: 176
Article number: 108887
DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2022.108887
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This work was conducted within the Nutrient Network ( experiment, which is funded at the site scale by individual researchers. The N-cycling microbial communities add-on study was funded by an internal competitive WSL grant (PSP 5233.00176.001.01) to B.F. and A.C.R. Coordination and data management have been supported by funding from the National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network (NSF-DEB-1042132) to E.T.B. and E.W.S., the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) programme (NSF-DEB-1234162), and the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota (DG-0001-13).
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (