Microbial community composition and function beneath temperate trees exposed to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide and ozone
- Cite this article as:
- Phillips, R.L., Zak, D.R., Holmes, W.E. et al. Oecologia (2002) 131: 236. doi:10.1007/s00442-002-0868-x
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We hypothesized that changes in plant growth resulting from atmospheric CO2 and O3 enrichment would alter the flow of C through soil food webs and that this effect would vary with tree species. To test this idea, we traced the course of C through the soil microbial community using soils from the free-air CO2 and O3 enrichment site in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. We added either 13C-labeled cellobiose or 13C-labeled N-acetylglucosamine to soils collected beneath ecologically distinct temperate trees exposed for 3 years to factorial CO2 (ambient and 200 µl l–1 above ambient) and O3 (ambient and 20 µl l–1 above ambient) treatments. For both labeled substrates, recovery of 13C in microbial respiration increased beneath plants grown under elevated CO2 by 29% compared to ambient; elevated O3 eliminated this effect. Production of 13C-CO2 from soils beneath aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) and aspen-birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.) was greater than that beneath aspen-maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.). Phospholipid fatty acid analyses (13C-PLFAs) indicated that the microbial community beneath plants exposed to elevated CO2 metabolized more 13C-cellobiose, compared to the microbial community beneath plants exposed to the ambient condition. Recovery of 13C in PLFAs was an order of magnitude greater for N-acetylglucosamine-amended soil compared to cellobiose-amended soil, indicating that substrate type influenced microbial metabolism and soil C cycling. We found that elevated CO2 increased fungal activity and microbial metabolism of cellobiose, and that microbial processes under early-successional aspen and birch species were more strongly affected by CO2 and O3 enrichment than those under late-successional maple.