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Exogenous nitrogen addition reduced the temperature sensitivity of microbial respiration without altering the microbial community composition


Atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition is changing in both load quantity and chemical composition. The load effects have been studied extensively, whereas the composition effects remain poorly understood. We conducted a microcosm experiment to study how N chemistry affected the soil microbial community composition characterized by phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) and activity indicated by microbial CO2 release. Surface and subsurface soils collected from an old-growth subtropical forest were supplemented with three N-containing materials (ammonium, nitrate and urea) at the current regional deposition load (50 kg ha-1 yr-1) and incubated at three temperatures (10, 20 and 30 oC) to detect the interactive effects of N deposition and temperature. The results showed that the additions of N, regardless of form, did not alter the microbial PLFAs at any of the three temperatures. However, the addition of urea significantly stimulated soil CO2 release in the early incubation stage. Compared with the control, N addition consistently reduced the temperature dependency of microbial respiration, implying that N deposition could potentially weaken the positive feedback of the warming-stimulated soil CO2 release to the atmosphere. The consistent N effects for the surface and subsurface soils suggest that the effects of N on soil microbial communities may be independent of soil chemical contents and stoichiometry. The results have been published as an original research article in Frontiers in Microbiology (


Fig. The temperature sensitivity (Q10) of soil CO2 emission for the surface and subsurface soils.

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