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Soil warming and fertilization altered rates of nitrogen transformation processes and selected for adapted ammonia-oxidizing archaea in sub-arctic grassland soil

Journal article
Authors A. Daebeler
P. L. E. Bodelier
M. M. Hefting
Tobias Rütting
Z. J. Jia
H. J. Laanbroek
Published in Soil Biology & Biochemistry
Volume 107
Pages 114-124
ISSN 0038-0717
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 114-124
Language en
Keywords N-15-tracing, N-15-pool-dilution, Nitrogen cycle, Climate change, Ammonia-oxidizing archaea, global change, temperature adaptation, bacterial communities, elevated, co2, terrestrial ecosystems, nitrification rates, agricultural soil, ribosomal-rna, land-use, deposition, Agriculture
Subject categories Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries


The balance of microbial nitrogen (N) transformation processes in sub-arctic terrestrial ecosystems is most likely affected by global change, with potential feedbacks to greenhouse gas emissions and eutrophication. Soil temperature and N availability their global increases being two of the most pressing global change features- will be prime drivers of N dynamics and microbial community structure, but little is known about their interactive effects in these ecosystems. We utilized geothermally warmed soils from Iceland as a natural experiment for assessing fertilization and warming effects on gross soil N transformation processes. Experimental incubations of these soils at different temperatures coupled with a dual N-15-labelling/-tracing approach and pyrotag transcript-sequencing allowed for the analysis of independent and combined impacts of N fertilization and temperature shifts on gross N mineralisation, nitrification, and ammonium and nitrate immobilisation rates and archaeal ammonia oxidizing (AOA) communities, being the key ammonia oxidizers in this soil. Gross nitrification in warmed soil was increased in relation to ambient temperature soil and exhibited a higher temperature optimum. Concomitantly, our results revealed a selection of AOA populations adapted to in situ soil temperatures. Phylogenetically distinct populations of actively ammonia-oxidizing archaea exhibited conserved temperature optima. N mineralization and nitrification showed higher sensitivities in response to short-term temperature changes if the soils had been warmed. In part, the influence of short-term temperature changes could however be neutralized by the effects of N fertilization. Long-term N fertilization alone affected only gross N mineralization. However, all gross N transformation rates were significantly altered by the interactive effects of N fertilization and soil warming. We conclude that in order to reliably predict effects of global change on sub-arctic soil N transformation processes we need to consider multiple interactions among global change factors and to take into account the capacity of soil microbial populations to adapt to global change conditions. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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