, Volume 117, Issue 1, pp 55-66

First online:

No effects of experimental warming but contrasting seasonal patterns for soil peptidase and glycosidase enzymes in a sub-arctic peat bog

  • James T. WeedonAffiliated withDepartment of Ecological Science, VU University AmsterdamDepartment of Biology, Research Group of Plant and Vegetation Ecology, University of Antwerp Email author 
  • , Rien AertsAffiliated withDepartment of Ecological Science, VU University Amsterdam
  • , George A. KowalchukAffiliated withDepartment of Ecological Science, VU University AmsterdamDepartment of Microbial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)
  • , Peter M. van BodegomAffiliated withDepartment of Ecological Science, VU University Amsterdam

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The nature of linkages between soil C and N cycling is important in the context of terrestrial ecosystem responses to global environmental change. Extracellular enzymes produced by soil microorganisms drive organic matter decomposition, and are considered sensitive indicators of soil responses to environmental variation. We investigated the response of eight hydrolytic soil enzymes (four peptidases and four glycosidases) to experimental warming in a long-term climate manipulation experiment in a sub-arctic peat bog, to determine to what extent the response of these two functional groups are similar. We found no significant effect of experimental spring and summer warming and/or winter snow addition on either the potential activity or the temperature sensitivity (of Vmax) of any of the enzymes. However, strong and contrasting seasonal patterns in both variables were observed. All of the peptidases, as well as alpha-glucosidase, had lower potential activity at the end of summer (August) compared to the beginning (June). Conversely, beta-glucosidase had significantly higher potential activity in August. Peptidases had consistently higher temperature sensitivities in June compared to August, while all four glycosidases showed the opposite pattern. Our results suggest that warming effects on soil enzymes are small compared to seasonal differences, which are most likely mediated by the seasonality of substrate supply and microbial nutrient demand. Furthermore the contrasting seasonal patterns for glycosidases and peptidases suggest that enzyme-based models of soil processes need to allow for potential divergence between the production and activity of these two enzyme functional groups.


Soil enzymes Stoichiometry Climate change Seasonality Sub-arctic Northern peatlands