Rapid Amino Acid Cycling in Arctic and Antarctic Soils
- Cite this article as:
- Jones, D.L., Farrar, J.F. & Newsham, K.K. Water Air Soil Pollut: Focus (2004) 4: 169. doi:10.1007/s11267-004-3027-z
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Amino acids constitute one of the largest inputs of organic nitrogen (N) to most polar soils and have been hypothesized to be important in regulating vegetational succession and productivity in Arctic ecosystems. Our understanding of amino acid cycling in these soils, however, is poor. The aim of this study was to investigate the size and rate of turnover of the amino acid pool in a range of Arctic and Antarctic soils. Our results indicate that in polar soils with either high or low ornithogenic inputs the amino acid pool is small in comparison to the inorganic N pool (NO−3 and NH+4). The free amino acid pool constituted only a small proportion of the total dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) pool in these soils. Here we show that these low concentrations may be due to rapid use by the soil microbial community in both Arctic and Antarctic soils. The turnover of the amino acid pool in soil was extremely rapid, with a half-life ranging from 2 to 24 h, indicating that this N pool can be turned over many hundred times each summer when polar soils are frequently unfrozen. The implications of amino acids in N cycling and plant and microbial nutrition are discussed.