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Effect of acetate on soil respiration, N2O emissions and gross N transformations related to fungi and bacteria in a grassland soil

Journal article
Authors Ronald J Laughlin
Tobias Rütting
Christoph Müller
Catherine J Watson
James R Stevens
Published in Applied Soil Ecology
Volume 42
Pages 25-30
Publication year 2009
Published at Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Pages 25-30
Language en
Links doi:10.1016/j.apsoil.2009.01.004
Keywords Gross N transformation, Temperate grassland, Microbial community, Fungi–bacteria ratio, 15N, Nitrous oxide (N2O)
Subject categories Geochemistry, Microbiology, Terrestrial ecology, Soil chemistry, Soil biology


Application of organic carbon to grassland in the form of manure or cattle slurry during the growing season is a normal agricultural practice. Under enhanced organic C supply changes in the grassland soil’s internal N cycling and in the microbial community are expected, in particular, the fungi–bacteria ratio. Here we present novel results from a 15N tracing study which aimed to investigate the role of fungi and bacteria in N transformations under enhanced organic C supply. We applied 15N labelled fertiliser to soil in a laboratory incubation with and without acetate addition. Moreover, we used specific microbial inhibitors to selectively inhibit either fungi or bacteria. The data from the incubation were used to calculate gross N transformation rates via 15N tracing models based on Monte Carlo sampling techniques. Our results show that fungi are the predominant organisms that carry out N transformations in a temperate grassland soil. Under enhanced organic C supply, the stimulation of the mineralization – immobilization – turnover and heterotrophic nitrification was predominantly related to fungal activity, indicating that fungi may play an increasingly important role in soils with an enhanced C supply. In addition, we showed that fungi were the dominant organisms for N2O production. Increased fungal activity under enhanced organic C supply may therefore increase N2O emissions from soil and have environmental consequences.

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